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  1. ISBN or International Standard Book Number - an unique identifier number.
  2. Displayed in barcode format on publications ex. books on their back jacket (lower right).
  3. Allotted by International ISBN Agency based in UK through the National ISBN Agency.
  4. It is in the form of 13 digits, consisting of 5 elements separated by spaces and hyphens ex. ISBN No. 978-81-8038-835-4 indicates following information:


·         Ist element- Denotes a specified prefix element (978).

·         IInd element- Identifies the particular country or geographical area (81).

·         IIIrd element- Identifies the particular publisher (8038).

·         IVth element- Identifies the particular edition, format of a specific title (835).

·         Vth element- Check digit (4).


What ISBN does not indicate

5.    It does not give any legal protection.

6.    No copyright protection.

7.    No statement on content form and documentation and distribution of the book.


What ISBN indicates

8.    It is a product number required to assist in internal processing and ordering while book selling.

9.    It provides access to bibliographic data bases used by the book industry and libraries to provide information.

10.   ISBN can be applied by publisher of the book, author of the book if he decides to publish the book himself.


Scope and Assignment of ISBN

  1. ISBN is assigned for the following products:

ü     Monographic works (books) that are textual and/or have an instructional content

ü     Publications not intended by the publisher to be updated regularly

ü     Individual articles

ü     Educational instructions, films, videos including audio books not purely for entertainment

ü     Electronic publications, Mixed media text based publications

ü     Print on demand publications

ü     Set of volumes or packs of books


Products which do not qualify for ISBN


ü     Serials/periodicals/journals (these are suitable for ISSN)

ü     Journals, record books

ü     Videos, DVDs or other media for entertainment

ü     Documentaries on video/CD-ROM, DVD or other media

ü     Computer games

ü     Computer application packages

ü     Music scores

ü     Items available to a restricted group, e.g. a course book only available to students on the course

ü     Websites

ü     Non text-based publications


Benefits of ISBN

12.     Unique international identifier for monographic publications.

13.     Assigning ISBN replaces handling of long bibliographic descriptive records-saving time, reducing staff costs & coping errors.

14.     Correct use different product forms to be clearly differentiated, enabling comparisons between different subject areas, publishing houses.

15.     Facilitates compilation and updating of book trade directories and bibliographic databases.

16.     Fast and efficient method of ordering and distribution of books, managing sale system in shops, supply chain systems, managing sales data, stock control.

17.     Ensures that the book is widely known.


About Raja Ram Mohan Roy National Agency for ISBN, MHRD

18.     Raja Ram Mohan Roy National Agency for ISBN is responsible for ISBN registration in the country and is affiliated to UK based International Agency.

19.     It is under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Deptt. of Higher Education, Book Promotion and Copyright Division.

20.     At present, there are separate forms for authors and publishers and educational institutions which have to be filled and sent with the required documents and the ISBN Nos. are allotted free of cost.


Need for automation of ISBN registration and allotment process

21.             Over a period of time with the growth of the publishing industry and awareness about ISBN, the request for ISBN has increased exponentially.

22.             Efforts have been made from time to time to streamline the operations of the agency which caters to the requirement of the applicants of the entire country.

23.             In this direction an attempt is being made by designing the ISBN online portal http://isbn.gov.in to further streamline the operations.

24.             The automation of allotment of ISBN system has been designed through NICSI empanelled vendor Akiko Sherman.

25.             The portal has been developed in consultation with the stakeholders, authors and publishers in meetings held on 26.8.2015 and 16.11.2015.


Salient features of the ISBN online portal


26.         Complete automation of the process of seeking application, their application by RRRNA examination and allotment of ISBNs.

27.         The developed software has several modules – users registration, online application submission, examination, allotment of ISBN No. and ISBN generation which includes ISBN generation request from the National Agency to the International Agency at UK.

28.         The automation process also seeks to maintain inventory as well as process the data that will be provided by the users.

29.         There will be doing away with receipt of hard copy of any document unless considered appropriate for establishing the identity of the applicant.

30.         It would also be ensured that the ISBN has been genuinely used and assigned to the books applied for by the user, which will be ensured by seeking details of the previously assigned ISBNs against a title and through oath and affirmation and declaration on their part.

Benefits of ISBN Online portal


31.     Online portal will streamline registration process, make it fast, efficient and transparent.

32.     Streamline operation of data accumulation, ease in examination, followed by fast delivery of services.

33.     Quick and easy search of bibliographic data.

34.     The books published and allotted ISBN Numbers by RRRNA will get globally identified in worldwide catalog of published books.

35.     The initiative will place India on the global map with other countries providing digital services.

36.     Key Milestone towards ensuring a “digitally” transformed India.

37.     Will ensures smooth processing in the publishing industry and help authors, editors, printers, booksellers and distributors etc.

38.     Ease of access of ISBN services across the country through digital approach.