E-Content Identification

August 2008
by Andy Weissberg

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E-Content Identification: The Business Case and Rationale for Using ISBNs and Other ISO-Standardized Identifiers

by Andy Weissberg

Do e-books and books in other digital formats need ISBNs, just the way print-on-paper books do? From the perspective of some publishers, the answer to that question isn’t quite final yet, but several major players in the industry—including the International ISBN agency, the U.S. ISBN Agency (Bowker), the U.K. ISBN Agency (Nielsen), and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)—have emphatically said Yes.

The ISBN-13 standard explicitly covers electronic publications, parts of publications, and journal articles when purchasable separately. And BISG recently published a 16-page discussion paper called “The Identification of Digital Book Content” which recommends that publishers “use ISBNs to identify all digital products which need to be traded separately” (you can find the report at bisg.org).

As the U.S. ISBN agency, Bowker has been working to solve problems some publishers see with assigning ISBNs to all digital products sold through the supply chain (e-books and other downloadables that publishers sell only on their own Web sites, and only direct to consumers, don’t need them). Because of our diversified business focuses across the publishing…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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