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What is an ISBN?

ISBNISBN is the acronym for International Standard Book Number. This 10 or 13-digit number identifies each specific book, edition of a book, or book-like product. Since 1970 each published book has been assigned a unique ISBN. In 2007, assigned ISBNs changed from 10 digits to 13.

 

Where to Find the ISBN Number On a Book

On most books, the ISBN numbers can be found on the back cover, next to the UPC barcode and number. If a book doesn't have the number on the back cover, open to the page featuring the copyright and publisher information and, the ISBN will be noted there.

Important note: ISBN numbers were introduced in 1970 and any book printed before 1970 will not have an assigned ISBN.

  • ISBN on the back cover:

ISBN placement


  • ISBN on the copyright page:

ISBN on Copyright Page

Why Search by ISBN

ISBNs are useful when looking for a very specific book. A student for example, can search by ISBN to find the correct edition of a textbook for university.

Books will have a different ISBN number for the softcover version than for the hardcover edition. The ISBN will also vary depending on the country of publication. A popular book that has been reprinted numerous times over the years will have many different ISBN numbers - one for each publication. If you are looking for a specific edition, binding or even cover art of a certain title, knowing the ISBN will be extremely helpful when searching for the book.

Here's a small example of different ISBN numbers associated with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

ISBN: 0061964360

ISBN: 0061964360

ISBN: 0199535566

ISBN: 0199535566

ISBN: 0143105426

ISBN: 0143105426

ISBN 1604501480

ISBN 1604501480

ISBN 1905921055

ISBN 1905921055