Get Ready for the New ISBN! - National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
Site includes the following FAQ and links to other resources.
How will I order books when I only know the 10-digit ISBN?
Data processing systems in the book distribution and supply chain will convert to carry 13-digit ISBNs for all items in their catalogs by 2007. Because customers, including libraries, will have books or bibliographic records that carry only the original 10-digit ISBN it is anticipated that for the foreseeable future these systems will need to accept queries with either 10- or 13-digit ISBNs for the older materials. Queries with 10-digit ISBNs can be algorithmically converted to their 13-digit equivalent in the search process. For communication with legacy data, it is also possible to convert a 13-digit ISBN beginning with “978” to a 10-digit ISBN. However, the presence of “978” at the beginning of an ISBN will not guarantee that the ISBN was ever issued as a 10-digit number: some ISBNs with prefix 978 will be created after 2007 because publishers will continue to use the ISBNs that have been assigned to them previously until all have been used.
Will I have to switch to using 13-digit ISBNs for searches in my library database?
Library systems will face the problem of potentially having a database with ISBNs of different lengths. A librarian with a book in hand with a 10-digit ISBN will not know if the database record has a 10-digit or 13-digit number. Because the conversion of the 10-digit ISBN to 13 digits requires a re-calculation of the check digit, this must be a system function, not a user function. Whether library system databases covert the legacy ISBNs in their indexes to 13 digits or not, to provide successful searching they will have to be able to retrieve the ISBN using either its 10-digit or 13-digit format.
What are library vendors planning and when will we see changes?
To date, library vendors have not announced their plans for meeting the 2007 conversion deadline for input, validation, and searching on 13-digit ISBNs. In the meanwhile, records will be issued by the Library of Congress, the British Library, and the Library and Archives Canada with both 13-digit and 10-digit ISBNs in the 020 (ISBN) field, qualified respectively as ISBN-13 and ISBN-10. NISO will continue to coordinate discussions in the library vendor community as this transition takes place.