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ISBN-13 Transition

Timing for the Transition

The obvious critical question is:

When do I have to be able to handle the 13-digit ISBN? Since we are now long past the January 2007 date, it is recommended that your publication only carry a 13-digit ISBN barcode.

Dual numbering means that a publisher furnishes both a book’s ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 to customers and the publisher is also capable of accepting either version in communication, whether written, oral, or electronic. The purpose of the dual numbering approach was to allow each organization to make the transition at its own pace, instead of subjecting the industry to an abrupt cutover.

How to Begin & Preparation

Clearly, the most important issues at stake involve the vendors or customers, considering their data management systems are outside of your control.

The most pressing issues are those involving interaction with customers or suppliers. The more you can communicate with either ISBN, the smoother an operation will be for you, since you probably can’t control when any other party will start handling the new number.

Title management. Because furnishing title information to customers is a crucial first step in book distribution, you should ask each of your customers whether they can now accept ISBN-13s and, if not, when they will be able to accept them.

Production. Find out which version(s) of the ISBN your bindery can handle now. As soon as you have converted your ISBN-10s to ISBN-13s using the required algorithm, and / or as soon as you have received ISBN-13s for new titles, incorporate both identifiers in you books wherever you formerly incorporated one. The Library of Congress will begin supporting the ISBN-13 in Cataloging-in-Publication (CIP) records on or about July 1, 2004 , by running both the 10-digit ISBN and the 13-digit ISBN in the CIP blocks.

Catalogs, title cards, and other sales material. To interact smoothly with customers that are themselves in various stages of transition, put both the ISBN-10 and the corresponding ISBN-13 for each title on ordering, sales, and promotional material.

Order processing. Because some customers may convert early, you should be prepared to accept orders with ISBN-13 long before January 2007. And because some customers may not convert on time, you should plan to continue support for ISBN-10 after that date.

Invoicing. Invoicing is another area where early transition to dual numbering will pay off. Don’t create a situation in which a customer who converts early delays payment because you invoice still uses only ISBN-10 when the customer has converted to ISBN-13.

Publishers should use the following readiness guidelines to improve their transition to the new ISBN-13 format:

  • Readiness to accept manual inquiries in ISBN-13
    • Be able to accept manual inquiries using ISBN-13 as well as ISBN-10
  • Readiness to accept manual orders in ISBN-13
    • Be able to accept manual orders in ISBN-13 as well as in ISBN-10 or other key presently used
  • Both ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 in Displays on Publisher Web Pages
    • Show ISBN-13 as well as ISBN-10 on publisher web pages
  • Both ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 in catalogs and other sales materials
    • Show ISBN-13 as well as ISBN-10 in catalogs, announcements, advertising, and other sales and promotional materials
  • Both ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 on publisher paper documents
    • Show ISBN-13 as well as ISBN-10 on paper documents supporting fulfillment, such as invoices and packing lists
All aspects may start by: January 1, 2005
Suggested Completion: January 1, 2006
Should be complete before: January 1, 2007
Transition to the ISBN-13 should be completed as soon as possible after January 1, 2007 , when the ISBN-13 becomes officially the “ISBN”; and the ISBN-10 should be phased out.

However, customers can be expected to order using ISBN-10 beyond that date.  Publishers should plan to maintain the capability to communicate in ISBN-10, while actively discouraging its use.