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The Difference Between ISBN-10 and ISBN-13

ISBN-10 Vs ISBN-13

Written by Rajeev Joshi

Rajeev Joshi is a part-time blogger who writes about book publishing and marketing. In addition to creating online content, he is a health and nutrition expert who assists individuals in losing weight and living an active lifestyle.

Categories: ISBN Guide for Authors

Published on: 8 Oct, 2022

ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique identifier for books that is used by publishers, booksellers, and libraries to efficiently manage and track books. The ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 number that is assigned to a book and appears on its cover, title page, and copyright page. ISBN-10 is a 10-digit version of the ISBN that was used until the end of 2006. ISBN-13 is the newer 13-digit version of the ISBN that was introduced in 2007 to replace ISBN-10. The main difference between the two is the length of the number and the way it is calculated. While ISBN-10 uses a single check digit, ISBN-13 uses two check digits. The switch to ISBN-13 was made to accommodate the growing number of books and to provide more accurate and efficient tracking and inventory management.

What is ISBN-10?

ISBN-10 is the original 10-digit format. It was introduced in 1970 and uses 9 digits plus a check digit to identify a book. The check digit is the last digit of the ISBN, and it is used to verify the accuracy of the other 9 digits in the ISBN.


ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. All books have a unique ISBN. This is a 10 or 13-digit number that identifies a specific book. An ISBN is assigned to every edition and variation (except reprints) of a book. For example, an e-book, a paperback and a hardcover edition of the same book will each have a different ISBN. The ISBN is unique to that book and will not change.

The ISBN is used by publishers, booksellers, and libraries for ordering, listing, and stock control purposes. Most books have an ISBN printed on the back cover near the barcode. If your book does not have an ISBN it may be an old edition, or it could be a special print, like a large print edition, audiobook, or Braille edition.

ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 uniquely identifies eBooks

There are two types of ISBNs:

  1. 10-digit ISBNs
  2. 13-digit ISBNs

Publishers can choose which type of ISBN they want to use for their books. In many countries, only one type of ISBN is used. But in some places, like the United Kingdom and Australia, both types are used. In these countries, you’ll need to know which type of ISBN your book has before you can order it from a bookstore or library.

The 10-digit ISBN was the first type of ISBN. It was introduced in 1970 and consists of four parts: the group identifier, the publisher identifier, the item identifier and the check digit. The structure of 10-digit ISBNs looks like this: 978-0-306-40615-7

The 13-digit ISBN was introduced in 2007 as part of efforts to standardize all global commercial book publishing. The structure of 13-digit ISBNs looks like this: 978 0 306 40615 7


The ISBN-10 format was developed to be more user-friendly and to allow more space for marketing information on the packaging of books. The EAN bar code was developed concurrently with the ISBN-10 standard and became a mandatory part of the standard in Jan 2007.

  • The main advantages of ISBN-10 over ISBN-13 are:
  • Shorter and fewer digits. This can make it easier for readers to input the number when searching for a book online.
  • Allows for more characters in the prefix, which can be used by publishers for marketing purposes.
  • Easier to calculate manually without a check digit (the last digit in the code), although this is not recommended.


Although ISBN-10 has been used for more than thirty years, there are some disadvantages to using this system. One of the biggest problems is that ISBN-10 is running out of numbers. Because ISBN-10 uses only ten digits, there are only one million possible ISBNs. This might seem like a lot, but when you consider that there are over six million books in the United States alone, it’s easy to see how the system could run out of numbers.

Another issue with ISBN-10 is that it doesn’t consider changes in the book industry. For example, many books are now published in both print and digital formats. This means that a single book might need two different ISBNs, one for the print version and one for the digital version. This can be confusing for both publishers and consumers.

Finally, some experts believe that the ISBN-10 system is simply outdated. In an age of digital information, they argue, we require a more sophisticated way of tracking and identifying books and other publications.

What is ISBN-13?

ISBN-13 is an updated version of the ISBN-10 standard. All books published after January 1, 2007, should use the ISBN-13 standard. ISBN-13 is faster and more efficient than ISBN-10, and it offers a better way to track and manage books.

What is the Difference Between ISBN-10 and ISBN-13?


ISBNs are numbers that identify books. The International ISBN Agency allocates ISBNs to publishers on a regional basis. In countries that participate in the ISBN system, an ISBN is required on all books except in certain circumstances.

The international standard for ISBNs is 13 characters long and consists of a combination of letters and numbers. The final character of an ISBN is a check digit, which can be either a numeral or the letter “X”.

The first 12 characters of an ISBN-13 are known as the EAN-13 barcode. This barcode can be scanned by barcode scanners and mobile phones with apps that can read barcode formats.

In addition to the EAN-13 barcode, some books also have an optional 2 or 5 digit supplement code appended to the ISBN-13 which provide additional information about the book, such as the price or edition number.


An ISBN-13 is a thirteen-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally. ISBNs were first introduced in 1970 and have been standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

The ISBN-13 is preferred over the ten-digit ISBN (ISBN-10) because it uses a more efficient numbering system that includes both numbers and letters. The ISBN-13 is also less likely to be confused with other numbers, such as the price of a book or product.

The advantages of using an ISBN-13 include:

  • Easier to read and input
  • More accurate
  • Can be used to track inventory
  • Can be used to track sales


The main disadvantage of ISBN-13 is the potential for confusion.

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