ISBNs for ebooks

I’ve been cataloging a LOT of ebooks lately and I wonder….

Why is the ISBN the same for epub and pdf versions of some titles – while other titles have two separate and distinct ISBNs for the two formats?  If anyone knows the answer I’d love a reply.

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5 responses to “ISBNs for ebooks

  1. Publications in different formats need different ISBNs since they are different products and need to be identified uniquely. Using the same ISBN for both EPUB and pdf will cause confusion since each ISBN can only have one set of metadata associated with it (so an ISBN cannot identify both an EPUB and a pdf at the same time).

    There have been guidelines and policy statements issued recently that give examples and use cases on how to identify digital products correctly using ISBN. In addition, the International ISBN Agency (the international body responsible for coordinating ISBN worldwide) has just released a revised Users’ Manual covering all aspects of ISBN assignment and implementation.
    Useful links:
    http://www.isbn-international.org/news/view/42
    http://www.isbn-international.org/page/info

  2. “Why is the ISBN the same for epub and pdf versions of some titles…”
    Our guidelines are that publications in different formats must have different ISBNs to identify them (because for example one number cannot identify both an EPUB and a pdf at the same time). However, we know that up to now not all publishers have been doing this. Failure to assign different ISBNs where there are different formats of the same book available causes confusion and means that the ISBN cannot be used to reliably indicate the format of an e-book.

  3. Very good question to discuss! If the ISBN is different for hard cover and soft cover format for a same publication, then it should be different for EPUB and pdf version of an e-book to avoid the confusion.

  4. Pingback: eBooks in Libraries: the plight of publisher-constucted barriers | Infinity Dots

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