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Topic: Anyone else watch ISBN's?

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Subject: Anyone else watch ISBN's?
Date Posted: 11/9/2012 2:42 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2007
Posts: 5,785
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Recently I've had 3 books published in the 40's and 50's that have shown 10 digit ISBN's here on PBS.

Now I KNOW the book was never published with an ISBN in it. They're just too old.

I have the exact same book. Same year of publication. Same publisher. Same cover art. Same # of pages. Same binding.

The first time it happened I notified the requestor that my book didn't have the 10 digit ISBN in the book. However, I felt a little stupid telling the person that because she/he would know that based on the year of publication. I thought it was a weird glitch and moved on.  Now it's happened twice more.

So here's my mental conundrum.... I've learned that I should "post the book without an ISBN", but on the other hand the book IS in the system. I should also be posting the book under the ISBN that goes to the correct book even though the ISBN will never be ON a book from the 50's.

So it's not a glitch and it's happening more and more.surprise

Date Posted: 11/9/2012 10:38 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Yes, I've also noticed those Carol...a bit confusing how to post.  My book had the same year, publisher, title, cover, binding, etc, etc...but no ISBN.  Like you, I've been curious where these came from, and official policy for posting. 

Short ISBN's should not be reused, and PBS guidelines say the ISBN must match the book data.  But what about these oddballs?  Can we help out members searching for the book by using the obvious listing?  Is it a big no-no?



Last Edited on: 11/9/12 10:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/9/2012 11:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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If everything else matched, I would post under the ISBN, and then PM the requestor and make sure they were OK with it before sending. That is really weird though. 

Date Posted: 11/9/2012 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,337
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The ISBN listing may refer to a newer edition of the same book.  It's possible that the listing has some info (date, pages) from the older edition.  And we can post images from other editions to a listing, so the cover image is immaterial.  You could check the ISBN at worldcat to see what dates are listed there.

In any case, if a book doesn't have an ISBN on it, we can't post it to that ISBN.   It's not okay to find a listing similar to a book and use it.  This help doc says:

You must not use an ISBN listing to post a book that does not have an ISBN printed on it.

Date Posted: 11/10/2012 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Some older books have an ISBN on the publishing page.  I've had several like this. All editions before ISBNS on the back became the norm sometime in the 90's.

I always just donated them because I didn't need the credits and they weren't WL. 

Date Posted: 11/10/2012 3:31 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2007
Posts: 5,785
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Thanks Patty, but it really doesn't answer why an older book would have an ISBN. Is it an error or is it real?

Here's one example: "Big Tree"  published in 1946 PBS has 2 ISBN's on record, both published by Viking. Viking never published the book after 1970 when the ISBN's came into being. (There was a paperback version by Whole Spirit with an ISBN. No connection here.)

http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/browser.php?k=Big+Tree+mary+buff 

Worldcat only confirms that there are no ISBN's for the Viking edition. Both PBS's numbers cannot be found.

http://www.worldcat.org/title/big-tree/oclc/305279&referer=brief_results  

However PBS could be pulling the data from Amazon who also lays claims to the same mysterious ISBNs. Historically Amazon would assign their own number starting with a "B" for a pre '70 book.  Could Amazon be flooding the system with errors?

I know it's really no big deal. I was just wondering if ISBN.org might, in the future, assign numbers to old books if asked. Especially since I'm finding this come up more and more on PBS.  Otherwise where are these ghost numbers coming from?

 

Date Posted: 11/11/2012 1:57 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Patty, several I remember do not seem to fit your 'earlier date' theory.  IIRC the date was also an exact match for title, binding, author, publisher, and even cover.  No ISBN on the cover, spine, or title page.  These were books before ISBN general use, but appear in the PBS database with an ISBN.  Several that I remember checking were vintage YA hardovers (think Nancy Drew era) that only had one printing.

As Mary notes, when ISBN's were new (and before they were commonly printed on the cover) they often appeared only on the title page. 

Carol, we've been informed that Amazon and PBS share a third party data base.  So it wouldn't appear the Amazon floods the system with errors, because we are informed that PBS does not pull/sync it's information from Amazon.  I have seen those 'B" numbers at Amazon tho, and wondered what they were!

 



Last Edited on: 11/11/12 2:00 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/11/2012 8:53 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,337
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Could be errors in the database.  There were SBNs before ISBNs.  Maybe some were converted. 

Date Posted: 11/11/2012 9:13 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2008
Posts: 7,759
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The printing date is often not the same as the publication/copyright date.  If a book goes into later printings, it still has the same copyright date, but a later printing date.  The printing date is often not updated and seems to go by the copyright date.

For instance, look at Amazon's listing of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.  It shows the book clearly in stock, still being printed, but at the bottom shows a first edition publication date of 1960.  It also has an ISBN.

Now, that may or may not be the case with your Big Tree book.  But, I did want to point out that many books retain the original copyright date in the book information, even if they are a later printing (with an ISBN). 

Date Posted: 11/12/2012 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Excellent point Shelia, I'd forgotton about that scenario.  LIke you, I do some work in a school library.  Some of the books I'm fairly sure were only printed once in in the 1950's or 1960's (remember those old quality adventure stories, written for teens and published in hardcover?).  Others (especially classics I donate for school use) may be copyrighted in the 1970's yet we can still purchase a brand new copy under that ISBN...makes it trixy if I'm looking for a newer edition that can handle the stress of multiple readings.   Like Uncle Tom's Cabin, copyright 1970 and yet this edition is still available brand new from Amazon.  Therefore, if I order a used copy I never know if it's going to be a copy actually printed in 1972 (brittle glue) or a copy purchased new last month (likely to be more durable).

 

Date Posted: 11/14/2012 4:42 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,753
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There are some older books that do not have the ISBN printed on the back cover, but only on the page at the front where the publication information is.