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The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique machine-readable identification number (via a bar code), which marks any book unmistakably. For 30 years the ISBN has revolutionized the international book-trade. 159 countries and territories are officially ISBN members. The ISBN bar code printed on any book, links to information on the book's title, author, subject, price, publisher, edition, format, intended audience, and market. All of this information is used to distinguish between books, so no two books will be exactly alike and customers will always be sure that they are ordering the correct book. It also helps automate the book distribution and sales industry. In the United States, there is only one agency who provides book publishers with a publisher's prefix and blocks of ISBN numbers. This agency is the R.R. Browker Agency. You can obtain an ISBN number and barcode through us for significantly less cost than paying R.R. Browker to become a publisher and hiring a service to produce a barcode for you.

The ISBN system has a long history. During the nineteeth century there developed in the U.K. and the U.S. pioneering efforts to systemize and cumulate the catalogs of publishers' output, to the benefit of booksellers, wholesalers and librarians. The current manifestations of this development are to be found in "Whitaker's Books in Print" in the U.K., R. R. Bowker's "Books in Print" in the U.S. and Bowker's "Global Books in Print on Disc" which combines the world's top six English-language book databases on a monthly CD-ROM disc--an international bibliography which not only profiles all titles currently in print in the English-language market, but also links each of them with their publisher.

The work that led to these great current bibliographies of English-language publishing was based at least partly on the premise that maintaining a smooth flow of accurate information about the various aspects of the publishing industry helps to keep this industry healthy. The development of and adherence to standards has always been crucial to creating and maintaining this flow of information. This statement was true for the Amherst College librarian Melvil Dewey. It was also true for David Whitaker and Emery Koltay when they introduced and implemented what is probably the most important standard of all, the ISBN. What would the modern computerized publishing industry look like if we did not have the ISBN to identify each iteration of the titles actively in circulation? This question becomes even more significant when you place it in the perspective of 50,000 new products each year - which is the (rather amazing) output of the U.S. publishing industry over the last few years. This characteristic of the publishing industry, that each new title, new edition, new binding, is treated as a separate new product is one of the major obstacles to unique and meaningful product data transmission within the publishing industry. It is also one of the major reasons that standards were set up such as the ISBN and the SAN for our systems and that the industry complies with them.

If you wish to obtain a USA ISBN publisher's prefix:
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If you wish to obtain an ISBN publisher's prefix for another country:
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Here is a sample of an ISBN Barcode:



The actual ISBN number is displayed above the bar code. The first digit (e.g. "0") indicates that the book originated in an English-Speaking country. This doesn't mean that it was printed in an English-Speaking country, only that it was published in one. The next 6 digits (e.g. 974180) identifies the publisher. The next three digits identify the particular title and edition. The last digit is a check digit used to check the accuracy of the ISBN Number.

ISBN numbers are funny in that if there is a dash present, it isn't necessarily in the same place. The dash is an essential component of a unique ISBN number. The big digits (e.g. 58999) identify the price of the book (not required but not a bad idea). The first digit of this sequence (e.g. 5) identifies the currency type for which the price describes. The number "5" in this position says that the listed price is in U.S. dollars. The rest of the digits (e.g. 8999) represents the price in cents (e.g. 8999 cents = $89.99). If you specify a price in the ISBN barcode, it becomes difficult to raise the price for your book should you change you mind later. Most of the on-line sellers such as Amazon will not allow you to ask for more than the barcode price. Be careful when deciding on this. It is better to list this higher than you are hoping to receive for the book.

If this is your first time through this process, let us help you. We can take care of it all at no cost to those who use our printing services. What we mean by that is that we will provide you with an ISBN number and create a barcode for your book cover and even help you place it in your cover graphics file. In addition, we will assure that your book is properly and expeditiously entered into the Books in Print database. For those who have gone through this process before, do you really want to go through it again? Take us up on our free offer and save yourself time and headaches.

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