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ISSN, or International Standard Serial Number, is the unique eight-digit number applied to a periodical publication including electronic serials.

It is similar in concept to the ISBN for books. Indeed some volumes, when published as part of a series, but can also stand alone, are assigned both an ISSN and an ISBN.

However, ISSNs, contrary to ISBNs, contain no information whatsoever as to the publisher or its location. They are just "dumb" numbers assigned to a standardized version of a serial title. For this reason, a new ISSN is assigned to a publication each time it undergoes any major title change.

ISSNs are assigned by a network of ISSN National Centres, usually located at National Libraries and coordinated by an International Centre based in Paris. the ISSN International Centre is an intergovernmental organization created in 1974 in the framework of an agreement between Unesco and the French Government.

The ISSN International Centre maintains a database of all ISSNs assigned worlwide, associated to records describing the publications thus identified. The ISSN Register contains more than one million entries for periodicals.

External link

* http://www.issn.org --wikipedia.org [Jun 2004]


The International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, is a unique identifier for books intended to be useful commercially. There is another quite similar system, the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), for periodical publications such as magazines. The ISBN system was created in the United Kingdom in 1966 (then called Standard Book Numbering SBN) and adopted as international standard ISO 2108 in 1970.

Each edition and variation (except reprints) of a book receives its own ISBN. The number consists of four parts:

The different parts can have different lengths and are usually separated by hyphens. These hyphens are not strictly necessary however, since prefix codes are used which ensure that no two codes start the same way.

The country field is 0 or 1 for English speaking countries, 2 for French speaking countries, 3 for German speaking countries etc. The country field can be up to 5 digits long; 99936 for instance is used for Bhutan. See this complete list (http://www.isbn-international.org/en/identifiers/allidentifiers.html).

The publisher number is assigned by the national ISBN agency, and the item number is chosen by the publisher.

Publishers receive blocks of ISBNs, with larger blocks going to publishers that are expected to need them; a small publisher might receive ISBNs consisting of a digit for the language, seven digits for the publisher, and a single digit for the individual items. Once that block is used up, the publisher can receive another block of numbers, with a different publisher number. As a consequence, different publisher numbers occasionally correspond to the same publisher.

The check digit is the sum of the digit number times the digit, modulo 11, with "10" represented by the character "X". For example, to find the check digit for the ISBN whose first nine digits are 0-306-40615:

So the check digit is 2, and the complete sequence is ISBN 0-306-40615-2. Since 11 is a prime number, this scheme ensures that a single error (in the form of an altered digit) can always be detected.

Because of a pending shortage in certain ISBN categories the international standards organization will soon be moving to a thirteen digit ISBN. This move will also bring the ISBN system into line with the UPC barcode system.

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