content=”Book Industry Study Group Approves Policy Statement on the Elimination Of Dual Identifiers”>Book Industry Study Group Approves Policy Statement on the Elimination
Of Dual Identifiers
From Now On, Use Only One Bar
by Angela Bole
The bar code on your book is
your ticket to retail sales, and the prolific use of bar codes has resulted in
reduced labor costs, improved inventory control, a speedier purchasing process,
and improved customer service for bookselling and all of retail. Until
recently, however, many books had to be marked on the back cover with two
different bar codes—a Bookland EAN bar code (encoding the ISBN) and a UPC
bar code (encoding the UPC)—to meet the needs of different markets.
From its inception, the presence
of dual bar codes has been a source of complication in databases and of
confusion in the supply chain, leading to delays at point of sale, missing
sales information, and lost reorders.
To tackle this set of problems,
the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) recently created a new Policy Statement
advocating the elimination of dual bar codes on physical books and related
products. Guidance as to which identifier—ISBN or UPC—is
recommended for assignment is included in the statement. For example, it
recommends ISBN for maps and UPC for calendars.
Help in Choosing Which
Code to Use When
The elimination of dual bar codes
is now possible because of the ISBN transition to ISBN-13 and because of GS1
U.S. initiatives (GS1 being the international organization whose goal is “to
simplify global commerce by connecting the flow of information with the flow of
goods,” with GS1 U.S. as its U.S. arm).
Technical details for the ISBN
transition are available at www.bisg.org/isbn-13/index.html, and more information
about GS1 U.S. can be found at <span
The point here is that ISBN and UPC numbers and bar codes have evolved into
members of the same 13-digit identifier family: GTIN-13, formerly EAN-13. For
the first time, the two previously incompatible product identifiers are now
compatible, and all retailers should be capable of handling either one. In
other words, it’s now possible to eliminate the costly confusion associated
with dual bar codes.
The BISG Statement, “Elimination
of Dual Identifiers on Books and Related Products” (BISG Policy Statement
POL-0701), is designed to help publishers use only one bar code on each product
intended for retail sale by booksellers and other retailers in the United
States by noting which identifier—ISBN (bar coded with a Bookland EAN) or
UPC (bar coded with a UPC-12)—is recommended for a given product or class
of product. Recommendations for more than 15 different classes of
products— including greeting cards, books in Braille, mixed media, maps,
calendars, and printed music—are incorporated in it.
BISG recommends implementing the
Policy Statement as soon as practical, with a target date for new publications
or products no later than March 31, 2008.
The complete statement about using
just one bar code—including the recommendations for specific kinds of
products—is available at <span
Angela Bole is the
associate director of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG). She can be
reached at email@example.com or 646/336-7141.