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Topic: Books Without ISBN

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Subject: Books Without ISBN
Date Posted: 12/16/2013 5:42 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2013
Posts: 741
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Is there any way to let a member know that you might possibly have a book they're looking for under these conditions:

The member has listed an ISBN, BUT: I have checked every possible data base - ISBNdb, Amazon, Google, etc., and nowhere does the book even SHOW that it has an ISBN!  (It's an older book).  The ISBN they listed on PBS isn't even complete (it's 6 numbers), so I have no idea where they got it.  Anyway, I would like them to have the opportunity to see if it's the book they want, but there's no way to PM them on the book without listing it as the edition I have; which I don't know if I should do because I don't know if it's what they want, considering theirs has a number and this book doesn't have one anywhere.  I know it sounds confusing, but can anyone help?

Date Posted: 12/16/2013 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,860
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A 6 number ISBN is not a real ISBN, it was generated by PBS in order to give the book a unique number in their database. So, sometime in the past, a person used the "Post without an ISBN" link for their copy of the book, the PBS system made a 6 digit number for it, someone ordered that copy, and the listing stuck around, and someone else Wish Listed it later.

Technically you are not supposed to post books to "short" ISBNs on Wish Lists because you are supposed to let PBS generate a new short ISBN for each and every copy of the book that ever gets posted. (Which has never made any sense to me, it would make way more sense, programatically speaking, if the PBS software treats a 6 digit ISBN exactly the same as it treats a 10 or 13 digit ISBN).

So, what you are supposed to do is just post the book to your bookshelf (use the "Post without an ISBN" link and PBS will generate a new 6 digit number for your book listing) and then hope someone finds it to order.

But if you post your copy to their "short ISBN" WL instead, and then PM them to find out if it's a copy that they want, I won't tell.

Date Posted: 12/16/2013 7:22 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,447
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PBS makes up the short ISBNs.  They are self generated for use only on PBS.  We do not recommend putting "short" ISBNs on your Wish List as books will generally be assigned their own new one when posted. 

PBS used to let us post books to other short ISBNs, then it was discouraged, with us being recommended to start a new one for each item. 

About non-ISBN items at PBS

Non-ISBN items are items Posted by a member onto his or her account Bookshelf using a customized (not pre-existing) listing.  This is necessary when:

  • The book being posted has no ISBN
  • The book does have an ISBN, but the PBS database is using that ISBN for another version (binding type or Large Print)  of the book
  • The book does have an ISBN, but the PBS database is using that ISBN for a completely different book (this is rare, but it does happen that publishers reuse ISBNs) 
  • The book does have an ISBN, but the PBS database does not include a listing for it.

A book that is posted using the Post Book Without an ISBN feature will be listed on PBS with a "short ISBN" (usually 5 or 6 digits).

The posting member created this listing using the Post Books Without an ISBN link on the Post Books page, entering the information manually that applies to his or her specific copy of the book (this information includes book dimensions and book description).  This means that:

  • Non-ISBN items (Items listed with "short" (5-digit) numbers in place of the ISBN) should not be edited using the Edit Book Data link.
    • This is because each "non-ISBN" item was posted into the system by the member who had that specific copy of the book, when his or her book did not match any pre-written listing in the system.
      • Thus, each "non-ISBN" item represents one copy of the book, and unless you have that exact copy that was posted using that listing by the original poster, the information (eg, book dimensions) about your copy of the book may not apply.
    • This also means that for a posting member who posts a book without an ISBN and makes  a typo/mistake in doing so, this cannot be edited after submitting the listing: the listing will need to be removed from the account Bookshelf and reposted correctly.

Because the listing was created manually, the listing represents only one specific copy of the book, and the book is not linked to any other item in the database, even if the titles are the same.  This means that:

  • non-ISBN books on a Wish List
    • will not trigger "Similar-to-wished-for-item" alerts
    • will not trigger a Wish List offer unless that particular copy is reposted into the system by someone who received it through PBS (using the Repost Books area or TBR Pile)
    •  will not be removed automatically when another version of that title is received through the Wish List.
  • "Short ISBNs"
    • should not be reused to post another copy of that book (the Post Books field will accept only 10 or 13 digit ISBNs)
      • this is because not all the information the first poster provided about the book may match another book of the same title that needs to be posted without an ISBN
    • cannot be added to a Book List (TBR Pile or Books I've Read) manually.
      • If that copy of the book is received through PBS, it can be added to TBR when it is received
      • If that copy of the book is received through PBS, it can be added to BIR when it is reposted from the TBR Pile or Books to Repost area
  • non-ISBN items on the Club Wish List if no ISBN version of the book is currently wished-for
    • Usually mean that the wishers already got an ISBN version and neglected to remove this non-ISBN version from their Wish Lists
      • this would not have been done automatically by the system when the ISBN version was received, since the items are not linked
    • If you see this, it is likely that no one is actually currently wishing for that title; these are "leftover" wishes

In other words, it is not very effective to put a non-ISBN item in the database onto a Wish List.

Date Posted: 12/16/2013 7:48 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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What they said yes *I won't tell either*

Date Posted: 12/16/2013 9:26 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,336
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Please don't use someone else's listing if you post the book.  The listing was created for one particular copy of the book, and if you use someone else's listing, it can mess up past records for that person.  Also, if the person who received that copy wants to repost it, the listing will already be snagged, which will cause that person problems.
 

Date Posted: 12/17/2013 1:23 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2010
Posts: 8,400
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For what it's worth, I frequently post books without ISBN's, and they frequently get ordered.  I'm not sure how people find them unless they are just searching by title, but they do get found and ordered.  Also, you can add your book link to the "wishlisted under different ISBN" thread in the book bazaar.  Good luck.

Date Posted: 12/17/2013 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,447
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If there is a main ISBN listing, then I add a tag with the short or different ISBN to the main listing page.

Date Posted: 12/17/2013 8:28 PM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2007
Posts: 1,404
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Last Edited on: 6/14/14 8:14 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/17/2013 11:54 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2013
Posts: 741
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Well, thanks everyone, you've been helpful.   I'll just post it, and if they find it, more power to them.  If they don't, I guess someone else will.  I was just trying to be nice to someone who was looking for it...

Date Posted: 12/18/2013 2:04 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,797
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What if you ordered a book with a short ISBN assigned by PBS, then read it and want to repost it, can it be reposted from my TBR list with the same ISBN?  There is a post button which I use since it takes the book off my TBR in the event I do not read the book so do not want to add it to my BIR list.  (My TBR list is enormous and I sometimes try to whittle it down this way, by posting a few books I probably won't get to read ever.)  I think this would make sense.  I am not sure if this is possible but the one time I tried, it would not post.  If it was already assigned a short ISBN why not keep the same ISBN?  Does anyone understand what I mean and know if this is allowed/possible?

Date Posted: 12/18/2013 3:17 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,447
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Yes.  You can and should re-use the number.  Check that the details were entered correctly.  

(This is for re-posting, not a new copy.)



Last Edited on: 12/18/13 1:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/18/2013 5:16 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,797
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Thank you!

Date Posted: 12/20/2013 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2009
Posts: 2,490
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I can tell you Sassy how I get those no ISBN books . If I have wish-listed a book by title and author even by a short ISBN = I get an e-mail telling me tjat a "similar book to the one W/L has been posted" . I then have to be quick to get to PBS and order it. LOL, I have gotten a lot of older books this way.

Date Posted: 12/21/2013 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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In regard to ISBN assignments, here is a little background.

First, ISBN = International Standard Book Number. These numbers started being commonly used in 1970, but I have seen a few of these assigned to books with 1969 copyright dates. The 10-digit ISBN system replaced the 9-digit SBN (Standard Book Number) system that began in 1966 or 1967. If you come across a book with a 9-digit SBN, simply add a 0 (zero) to the beginning of the number to convert it to an ISBN-10.

Books published prior to these dates (1966 and 1970, respectively) will not have SBN or ISBN numbers.  ISBN-13 numbers began being used in 2007. If you see a book posted here or elsewhere with either an ISBN-10 or ISBN-13 number and showing a publication date prior to 1966, you can be assured that it is a later reprint of a work having an earlier copyright date.

ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 numbers can be also converted to each other. The most obvious difference between the two is that ISBN-13 numbers begin with 978, so these digits must be either added or removed during the conversion. The last digit of ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 numbers, however, is a "check digit" and must be computed from a mathematical formula, so the conversion isn't completely simple or straightforward.

Due to the nature of the computation of the check digit (which uses modulo-11 arithmetic), 11 unique digits are needed to represent it. The agreed upon convention for the additional "digit" is "X", so the final digit in either the ISBN-10 or ISBN-13 systems can be any digit from 0 through 9, or the letter X.

ISBNs encode a number to identify the language or country group in which the the book was published, a number to identify  the publisher, a number to identify the title from the publisher, and then the check-digit. With practice, it is possible to identify publishers from the ISBN encoding but these are not necessarily unique, especially given the nature of mergers, acquisitions, and publisher groups within the publishing industry.

In addition, note that publishers sometimes re-use ISBNs for completely different book titles, so ISBN numbers are not necessarily unique for a given title. Also, any book that has been reprinted by different publishers (and sometimes even by the same publisher) will have different ISBN numbers assigned to it, so book titles often do not have unique ISBNs.

 

 



Last Edited on: 12/21/13 7:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/21/2013 9:43 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,447
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File:ISBN Details.svg

Subject: 8 digit SBN conversion example?
Date Posted: 12/24/2013 10:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2013
Posts: 6
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First, ISBN = International Standard Book Number. These numbers started being commonly used in 1970, but I have seen a few of these assigned to books with 1969 copyright dates. The 10-digit ISBN system replaced the 9-digit SBN (Standard Book Number) system that began in 1966 or 1967. If you come across a book with a 9-digit SBN, simply add a 0 (zero) to the beginning of the number to convert it to an ISBN-10. ...

The last digit of ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 numbers, however, is a "check digit" and must be computed from a mathematical formula, so the conversion isn't completely simple or straightforward.

Due to the nature of the computation of the check digit (which uses modulo-11 arithmetic), 11 unique digits are needed to represent it. The agreed upon convention for the additional "digit" is "X", so the final digit in either the ISBN-10 or ISBN-13 systems can be any digit from 0 through 9, or the letter X.

 

 Does this mean I can combine the 2 two rules?  Example, I have a book from Dell with a 1962 copyright and fourth printing -Jan 1973.  The flyleaf does not show any SBN, but the spine says 440-03428-075.  I know the last 3 digits are a price code.  It looks like the ISBN converts by adding the 0 as the first digit and then maybe an X for the last to be 044003428x.  When I look up a later edition of the same title, I noticed there is an ISBN 0440034285.  Does this suggest that if the last digit is a check # that the x is a 'wildcard' or a very specific number that may change depending on things like if it is a 4th printing or a 5th of the same title?  It would appear that I would be better using a post a book with the later ISBN, even if it does not specifically display it on the particular edition someone may have.


 

Date Posted: 12/24/2013 11:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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Tony, I am not clear on parts of your post and question.

I had trouble finding the SBN in your example because only 8 digits remain if the last 3 digits "075" are removed, and thus is not a valid SBN which should have 9 digits. It would help if you posted the book title (and author) along with the number on the spine.

I was not able to find a book with ISBN 0440034285 per your example but did find book listings for ISBN-10 0440034280 and ISBN-13 9780440034285 for "A Hangman's Dozen" by Alfred Hitchcock with a copyright date of 1962. Is this the book you are referring to?

An "X" in the check-digit position for a book represents a computed number and stands for the digit "10". The computation of the check digit in ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 numbers has 11 possible results: 0, 1, 2, 3,..., 9, 10. The letter "X' simply represents the number "10" because a single character is needed to represent it. The "X" has nothing to do with an edition,  version or printing of a given title. The letter was chosen as a logical representation of the check digit since X is the Roman numeral for the number 10 and is easy to remember.

The check digit computation for ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 numbers use different algorithms and the check digits are not interchangeable between the two system. In general the algorithms result in different values for the check digit, but occasionally may yield the same result. The computation is not dificult but is beyond the scope of this PM.

Details about how ISBN fields are defined and how to compute check digits for ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 numbers can be found at the Wikipedia entry for International Standard Book Number.

 

 

 



Last Edited on: 12/25/13 5:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 12/25/2013 9:20 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2013
Posts: 6
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Thanks Chris, especially for the link.  Yes the example is the Hitchcock, Hangman's dozen paperback. 

X as a Roman numeral specific to the value of 10 makes sense, (or in hexadecimal it would be an A) rather than a wild card.  So using the  ISBN-10 0440034280, starting from the right rather then the left, it would say that the check digit is 0, the title is 428, the publisher code is 4003,  and the group is 04.  So the 8 digit (or 11 including the price) codes from the late 60's and early 70's should map to an ISBN 10 fairly often.  Place the 0 in front and worst case if a quick search by title does not give the last digit,  either use the formula or try all 11 possibilites to see if there is an entry already in the system.

This means the book would not need the 5 or 6 digit system assigned short version and so becomes more functional for use in wish lists and searches.  So, it's possible to grab the wrong cover picture, which may look the same but actually does not match the publisher on the flyleaf and spine.  While I am guessing that mostly is not a problem for people who are mainly interested in the story of the book, having the exact match does come in handy for people looking for home schooling items from Scholastic, or the large print / EZ read. 

I think I saw something that suggested that the Book Data Correction group may be able to 'fix' a short code if someone posts a book as a non ISBN title, but I also saw a note about deleting an invalid entry from your bookshelf and reposting a newer description which allows it to be completely under a member's control and save the BDC's some work.


 

Thanks again..


 


 

Date Posted: 12/25/2013 6:49 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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PBS assigns a short number for every book that is posted here without an ISBN. Often these pertain to books that were published in pre-SBN days (i.e.., before 1966 or so), but there are also many books published after the SBN and ISBN standards were adopted that do not have ISBN-10 or ISBN-13 numbers printed on their covers or copyright pages, and presumably were published without an ISBN assignment.

The short numbers used by PBS are strictly incremental and cannot be changed for a given listing. The most current short "ISBN" at the time of this post is 432707, and the next ones to be assigned will be 432708, 432709, 432710, etc.

With all due respect, Tony, I don't understand the last sentence in your preceding post :

I think I saw something that suggested that the Book Data Correction group may be able to 'fix' a short code if someone posts a book as a non ISBN title, but I also saw a note about deleting an invalid entry from your bookshelf and reposting a newer description which allows it to be completely under a member's control and save the BDC's some work.

PBS assigns a unique number for every book that is posted on the site without a true ISBN. Most of the short "ISBN" numbers encountered here will be 4 to 6 digits in length, but ocassionally you might come across a 3-digit number or, very rarely, a 2-digit number. Short numbers are referenced as ISBNs for simplicity in listing and searching for books on the site, but they have nothing at all to do with true ISBNs and cannot be converted into ISBN-10 or ISBN-13 numbers. PBS-assigned numbers are unique and static, and cannot be 'fixed' or changed. A book posted with a short number can be re-posted if an ISBN is found for it, but this will create a completely independent listing for the book and does not update or change any listing for a book having a short, PBS-assigned number.


 



Last Edited on: 12/25/13 7:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 4