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The Transition Timetable

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Since the PMA Newsletter’s first heads-up on “Planning for the Age of ISBN-13” (May 2004; available at www.pma-online.org), publishers, retailers, and wholesalers have been exploring ways to facilitate the transition to the required 13-digit identifier while minimizing any negative impact.

Thanks to a Book Industry Study Group task force survey, we now know that most retailers—including chains and mass marketers—expect to be able to store, scan, and process 13-digit bar codes on books by July 1, 2005, and almost all the remaining retailers expect to follow suit by the end of the year.

The timelines below, which also come from the Book Industry Study Group, have been endorsed by the industry’s major players and are designed to help all of us stay in sync with our trading partners as the transition progresses. (FYI, they assume approval of the ISBN-13 Standard by January 1, 2005, and may be adjusted if approval is delayed.)

January 1, 2005

Begin printing both ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 on each book’s copyright page.

This is the format recommended by the International ISBN Agency:

ISBN-13: 978-1-56619-909-4

ISBN-10: 1-56619-909-3

BISAC recommends using both numbers starting in January 2005 and throughout the transition period that is scheduled to end on January 1, 2007, so that every company can make the transition at its own pace, instead of being subject to an abrupt cutover. Publishers may continue printing ISBN-10 along with ISBN-13 after January 1, 2007, as long as any major market segment needs the old format.

It’s important to note, however, that dual numbering is valid only for ISBN-13s that begin with 978, and that before you can use dual numbers you must be capable of accepting either version (ISBN-10 or ISBN-13) in written, verbal, and electronic communications.

Here’s an outline of the steps to take to prepare:

1. Be ready to accept manual inquiries using ISBN-13 as well as ISBN-10.

2. Be ready to accept manual orders that use either ISBN-13 or ISBN-10 or both.

3. Display both ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 for each book on your Web pages.

4. Show both ISBNs in catalogs and other sales materials.

5. Show both in paper business documents such as invoices and packing lists that support fulfillment.

By the Third Quarter of 2005

Use only a single 13-digit Bookland EAN on cover 4 (this is the bar code most publishers have already been printing for 20 years to convey the ISBN). The single 13-digit Bookland bar code is to be used instead of either two bar codes (UPC and Bookland EAN) or the Price Point UPC. It is very important to note that books that may be stripped for returns should still print the Bookland EAN on cover 2 (the inside front cover).

Provide an eye-readable ISBN-10 above the bar code on cover 4, as in this example:

ISBN: 1-4028-9462-7

After January 1, 2007

At this point, when the ISBN-13 has become the official ISBN, the ISBN-10 should be phased out. However, since some customers may order using ISBN-10 beyond that date, publishers should plan to maintain the capability to communicate in ISBN-10, while actively discouraging its use.

Unless a major market segment still needs ISBN-10, print only a single ISBN-13 on new publications and reprints.

The ISBN-13 should be printed above the bar code on cover 4, as in this example:

ISBN: 978-1-4028-9462-6

If you need to print ISBN-10 along with ISBN-13 for a major market segment, position them following this example:

ISBN-13: 978-1-4028-9462-6

ISBN-10: 1-4028-9462-7

If both ISBNs are printed on cover 4, they should be printed in the same sequence on the copyright page, with the ISBN-13 above the ISBN-10.

Tom Clarkson is director of supply chain technology at Barnes & Noble and chair of the BISAC Machine-Readable Coding Committee.

While You’re At It

Organizations are reminded that BISG supports the use of the full Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) group of identifiers (including the EAN/UCC-14, as well as the EAN/UCC-13, UPC-12, and EAN-8) and compliance with GTIN practice. GTIN compliance means storing all identifiers in a 14-digit field, right-justified and zero-filled to the left. Note that the ISBN-10 is not a member of the GTIN family.

Compliance will be helpful preparation for using the EAN/UCC-14 to indicate different packaging configurations for a title. Actually using this number is probably a good way down the road. However, as you make changes to accommodate transactions that involve ISBN-13, you’d be wise to arrange to accommodate 14-digit identifiers as well, so you can avoid doing essentially the same thing all over again later.

BISAC and its Internet Commerce Committee advocate sending GTIN along with both ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 in electronic transmissions throughout the transition period to allow each organization to proceed through the transition at its own pace.

For more information see www.bisg.org.

A Message from the U.S. ISBN Agency

As of January 1, 2007, all books and book-related products must

carry 13-digit ISBNs.

All 10-digit ISBNs in circulation will have the 3-digit EAN prefix 978 added (this prefix currently represents the book industry) and a new check digit calculated to replace the last digit of the 10-digit ISBN.

This 13-digit ISBN will be identical to the number stored in current EAN bar codes carrying ISBN with the 978 prefix.

All 10-digit ISBNs must be converted to the 13-digit format, and all systems will need to be able to accommodate this format.

For publishers interested in converting their 10-digit ISBNs to 13 digits, Bowker will have a conversion utility available at www.isbn.org and www.bowkerlink.com in 2005.

Now is the time to submit your title information to Books in Print. Every ISBN registered will automatically be converted to 13 digits.

As each country’s ISBN Agency exhausts its supply of 10-digit ISBNs in various prefix ranges, the International ISBN Agency will issue complete 13-digit ISBNs carrying the new EAN prefix 979.

The U.S. ISBN Agency will start issuing 13-digit ISBNs with the 979 prefix only when the International Agency makes them available.

The EAN prefix 979 cannot be used on existing 10-digit ISBNs.

All bar codes will carry the 13-digit ISBN with hyphenations above the bar code, and the EAN 13-digit identical number, without hyphens or spaces, below the bar code.

Information and guidelines can be found on the International ISBN Agency site at www.isbn.org/standards/home/isbn/international/index.asp. Or visit the U.S. ISBN Agency site at www.isbn.org and access “Transition to 13-digit ISBN.”

If you have questions regarding the move to the 13-digit ISBN, please contact the U.S. Agency at isbnrevision@bowker.com.

Doreen Gravesande

Senior Director

ISBN/SAN/PAD Data Acquisition

R.R. Bowker, LLC


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