Function and Scope


The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a short identifier that uniquely identifies any monographic title published internationally. The ISBN accompanies the publisher’s product from production through distribution to sale. Therefore, it contributes considerably to the rationalisation of the book distribution systems. The introduction of the ISBN led to the simplification of ordering, stock control, accounting, and export procedures in many branches of the book industry.

The ISBN also facilitates ordering, acquisition, cataloguing, and circulation procedures in libraries and documentation centres, across political border s. The introduction of the ISBN system thus serves the flow and documentation of bibliographic information and provides economic bibliographic control of the regional book production. Some examples of publishers’ products to which an ISBN shall be assigned are:

i Printed books and pamphlets

i Braille publications

i Publications which are not intended by the publisher to be regularly updated or continued indefinitely

Individual articles 1 or issues of a particular continuing resource (but not the continuing resource in its entirety)

i Maps i Educational/instructional films, videos and transparencies

i Audio books on cassettes or CD or DVD (talking books)

i Electronic publications either on physical carriers (such as machine-readable tapes, diskettes, CD-Roms) or on the Internet

i Digitised copies of print monographic publications

i Microform publications i Educational or instructional software

i Mixed media publications (where the principal constituent is text-based).




A publication that is issued over time with no predetermined conclusion. Such a publication is usually issued in successive or integrating issues which generally have numerical or ch ronological designations. Typical examples include serials such as newspapers, periodicals, journals, magazines, etc. and integrating resources such as updating loose-leaf publications and updating Web sites. Individual articles or issues that are available separately qualify as monographic publications and may be identified by an ISBN. 3 For example, each separate product form of the novel “The Old Man and the Sea” is eligible for an ISBN but the novel itself, as an abstract textual work, shall not be assigned an ISBN. Page 6 Some examples of publishers’ products to which an ISBN shall not be assigned are: i Continuing resources 2 treated in their entirety as bibliographic entities (individual issues may qualify for ISBNs) i Abstract entities 3 such as textual works and other abstract creations of intellectual or artistic content i Ephemeral printed materials such as advertising matter and the like i Printed music i Music sound recordings i Art prints and art folders without title page and text i Personal documents (such as electronic curriculum vitae and personal profiles) i Greeting cards i Software that is intended for purposes other than educational or instructional i Electronic bulletin boards i Emails and other electronic correspondence i Games.


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