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Topic: 10 and 13-Digit ISBN's: Why?

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Subject: 10 and 13-Digit ISBN's: Why?
Date Posted: 7/17/2013 11:43 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2012
Posts: 46
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Would someone please tell me why each book seems to have both a ten and a thirteen digit ISBN? Gotta be a reason, but it's unknown to me.

Date Posted: 7/17/2013 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,424
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The 10 digit ISBN was started back around the 1970s.  The numbers are sold to publisher's in clumps.  They began to run out of numbers.  (Many have an "X" at the end.)  So they revised the system to be 13 numbers. 

Subject: What Does the ISBN Future Look Like?
Date Posted: 7/17/2013 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2012
Posts: 46
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Well, okay, Emily. But are ten digit ISBN's being phased out? Are they getting entirely used up? In the future, will we be using thirteen digit ISBN's only? Enquiring minds want to know! (That was an old catchphrase from long ago.)

Date Posted: 7/17/2013 2:24 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,424
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I'm not in the publishing field.  I know that there will be 979 numbers for use in the US once we run out of 978s.  And I just learned that the numbers actually designate something.  (EAN refers to a country coding system.)

 

Date Posted: 7/17/2013 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2009
Posts: 541
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Yes, new books are all issued with a 13-digit ISBN now. Most of the ones that have both listed on the back cover were printed during the transitional period while both ISBN systems were valid. I did a quick search and it looks like the official date for 13-digit only was in 2007.

Date Posted: 7/18/2013 11:05 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2010
Posts: 220
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Yes, in the future it will be 13-digit ISBNs only (ISBN-13).  The 10-digit ones were pretty much used up because of the way they were distributed (i.e., sold in larger chunks than needed to be).

By the way, the "X" at the end of an ISBN-10 has nothing to do with numbers running out.  It has to with the last didgit being a check digit mod 11, so in addition to the digits "0" through "9", another character was needed to represent "10" as a single character.