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Saturday, 15 July 2006

Unlucky No 13 Changes coming to the ISBN numbers!

Unlucky No. 13
Changes are coming to all books near you soon.

Have you ever wondered about those little numbers on the back of all books? These numbers started appearing on books in the UK in 1966. Which was later adopted as an international standard for identifying books in 1970. Therefore the International Standard Book Number, or ISBN (sometimes pronounced "is-ben) and as of Junrary 1st 2007 they will be changing from 10 digit codes to 13 digit codes.

What do the actual numbers mean below is a chart given to us by UW Retail Services to explain the numbers both under the ISBN 10 and ISBN 13 Systems:

ISBN 10
0-7735-0719-1
-The 0 identifies the country or region the book is being published in.
-The 7735 is the publisher identifier within the country.
-The 0719 is the edition of the publication.
-The 1 is a calculated check digit that is created by using the first 9
numbers.

ISBN 13 (The above number will become)
978-0-7735-0719-7
-The 978 identify this product as a book.
-The 0 identifies the country or region the book is being published in.
-The 7735 is the publisher identifier within the country.
-The 0719 is the edition of the publication.
-The 7 is a calculated check digit that is created by using the first 9
numbers.

The book industry has been gearing up for this for some years now. Yet like any major change there is some hesitation and concern for a smooth transition. For example Random House of Canada has had ISBN 10 & 13 numbers on all newly published books since January 2006, even though the go-live date is January 1st 2007. All older titles as they are reprinted will only have ISBN 13 numbers, and current stock will be stickered with new 13’s. Also some publishers will make the barcode number and the ISBN 13 number the same, Random House has done this to make for ease of scanning and inputting books into computer systems.

That begs the question about what does this mean to student, will if affect them and should they care. It has had many implications on campus already, and will do so well into the near future. May Yan the Director or Retail Services was kind enough to answer some questions she believes that at the BookStore the transition will be fairly painless for students as they have done all that can be done to be prepared. She stated “We have volunteered to be ISBN 13 beta site testers. This will allow us to identify any potential issues before they get to our POS registers.” With being a test site they are working out all of the kinks and believe they will be prepared come January 1st. For the used bookstore run by FEDS it will be a different story John Jongerius (JJ), spoke with Imprint recently and share about the process on their end of the book business.

JJ stated that they had just upgraded their purchasing and tracking software a year ago. And now with this change they will have to completely change their system again. Now for used books there is a little more leanway as far as timeline for implementing a new system. The software that they are purchasing will have many new features to benefit students. First JJ says “It will support electronic funds transfers, once it is set up and running, when you drop off your books you fill out a banking form and the money for the sale of your books will be automatically deposited into your bank account. “ This feature they hope to have in place in the near future. Also from the used end, the company that they sell used books to that UW has discontinued is giving them until June 2007 to have the changeover in place. JJ also stated that last year the Used Book Store did over $2 Million in textbooks. This new software will benefit 4th year students most, for they have the highest percentage of unclaimed monies owed each year.

Yes this will make it harder to track down used an out of print books, especially if new editions or reprints end up with different ISBN’s. But over all it looks like the book stores here on campus are prepared and looking ahead to make life easier for students and staff.

(First Published in Imprint 2006-07-14 as ‘Changes are coming to books near you.)

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