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Bookland EAN and ISBN Bar Code Page

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International Standard Book Numbers & Bar Code

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) evolved from the Standard Book Number (SBN) previously used in some English speaking countries. An SBN is converted to an ISBN by prepending a digit '0'. Prior to January 1, 2007 books were published using ISBN-10, a 9-digit number plus one check digit. New books now are assigned an ISBN-13 number. Under the old ISBN-10 system, the ISBN number was used to make a number that could be encoded into an Bookland EAN barcode. Under the new ISBN-13 number, the ISBN and the Bookland EAN number is the same. See also the document ISBN-13 Sunrise.

If you are a new publisher and need one or more ISBNs, the agency responsible for assigning these numbers in the USA is R.R. Bowker.

Much more information can be found at the International ISBN Agency. You can also find where to get an ISBN if you are outside the USA.

You can find the much more information about ISBN at the Book Industry Study Group site. offers a free ISBN-10 to 13 converter here. It provides an online conversion of any number of ISBNs, and the ability to save the results to an Office Excel file.

Bar Code and ISBN

The barcode symbols that appear on the back of books are known as Bookland EAN or ISBN-13 bar code symbols. However, although the type of bar code is the same as others used for retailers, the numbering system used to generate the bar code is different. The EAN for normal retail products is a 13 digit number which uniquely identifies that product. However, a book already has a unique number to identify it, the ISBN. The EAN bar code for a book is generated from the ISBN for the book.

When encoded in an EAN-13 bar code, the ISBN is preceded by the digits 978 or 979 (see the transition document about 979) and the ISBN check-digit is not encoded. However, an EAN-13 check digit is added to the end of the bar code.

The best source of information about ISBN-13 and how to create a barcode can be found in "ISBN-13 for Dummies" at the Book Industry Study Group web site.

Alongside the main bar code symbol there can also be a five digit add-on bar code. If the add-on is the book's price, it will begin with a 0 for British Pounds and 5 for US Dollars. A supplemental code of 90000 indicates that the book has no suggested retail price. Supplemental numbers in the range 90001 to 98999 may be used by publishers for internal purposes. Complimentary copies of books are marked 99991. The National Association of College Stores uses 99990 to mark used books.

You can also find a list of Bookland EAN film master suppliers at the R.R. Bowker site.

There is a free program written in Python for printing Bookland. You simply key in the ISBN and price and the program translates to the proper EAN-13 number and prints a Postscript file to print the bar code. You can get it here free. Also, the site has a web page that generates the image on the fly for you.

A free online ISBN bar code generator based on, provides bar codes in EPS or JPG format.

If you need to look up the publisher of a book using the ISBN number, try

For information about ISSN, look at the ISSN Page on BarCode 1.

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