The Transition Timetable

January 2005
by Tom Clarkson

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Since the PMA Newsletter’s first heads-up on “Planning for the Age of ISBN-13” (May 2004; available at, 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….IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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