Book Geekery: 10 Geeky Facts About…ISBNs


  • ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number
  • The ISBN is an unique international identifier for a specific edition of a book
  • The ISBN became an international standard in 1970. A book printed before 1970 will not have an ISBN
  • An ISBN contains 13 digits (10 digits up until 2007)
  • 13-digit ISBNs are made up of 5 elements: prefix, group or country identifier, publisher identifier, title/edition identifier and check digit
  • The prefix and group identifier for Bermuda is 978-0 (the 0 representing an English speaking country)
  • The International ISBN Agency is the registration authority for the ISBN standard worldwide. It is based in the UK.
  • The issue of ISBNs is controlled by more than 150 national and regional agencies in over 200 countries and territories
  • The ISBN number is usually found on the back cover of a book next to the barcode. Alternatively, it will be alongside the copyright and publisher information.
  • Where an ISBN ends in ‘X’ this indicates the check digit is ten.



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