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  1. What is ISBN?
    Ans. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique numerical identifier for
    monographic publications such as books, pamphlets, educational kits, microforms, CD-ROMs
    and other digital and electronic publications. Periodicals, magazines, journals and other types
    of serial publications are not eligible for ISBNs. They are covered by a separate identification
    system called International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).
  2. What is the structure of an ISBN?
    Ans. An ISBN is a 13-digit number consisting of 5 parts:
    For ISBN 978-93-5300-895-6
    -GS1 element (978) – three-digit number that is made available by GS1, formerly EAN
    International, currently 978 or 979.
    -Registration group element (93/81 for India) – identifies the country, geographical region or
    language area participating in the ISBN system. This element may be between 1 and 5 digits
    in length.
    -Registrant element (5300) – identifies a particular publisher or imprint within a registration
    6 digit registrant element signifies block of 10 ISBN
    5 digit registrant element signifies block of 100 ISBN
    4 digit registrant element signifies block of 1000 ISBN
    5 digit registrant element signifies block of 10000 ISBN
    -Publication element (895) – identifies a specific edition of a publication by a specific publisher.
    -Check digit (6) – the final single digit that mathematically validates the rest of the number,
    calculated using a modulus 10 algorithm.
  3. Who is a Publisher?
    Ans. The publisher is the group, organization, company or individual who is responsible for
    initiating the production of a particular publication. Normally, the publisher is also the person
    or body who bears the cost or financial risk in making a product available. It is not normally
    the printer, but it can be the author of the book if the author has chosen to publish their book
    themselves/ self-published (means bearing the financial risk associated with the publishing of
    the book). The publisher should supply the RRRNA with a specified amount of metadata about
    the publication to which the ISBN is assigned. International ISBN Agency has developed an
    ONIX for ISBN registration format to be used by ISBN registrants (primarily publishers) and
    national ISBN Agencies.
  4. Can a publisher have both an ISBN & an ISSN?
    Ans. Both numbering systems are used for books in a series and with annuals or biennials.
    The ISBN identifies the individual book in a series or a specific year for an annual or biennial.
    The ISSN identifies the ongoing series, or the ongoing annual or biennial serial. If a publication
    has both, each should be printed on the copyright page.
  5. Who is eligible for an ISBN?
    Ans. The ISBN Agency assigns ISBNs at the direct request of publishers, e-book publishers,
    audio cassette and video producers, software producers and museums and associations with
    publishing programs.
  6. Why should I use an ISBN?
    Ans. If you are a publisher or bookseller it may be in your own interest as you want to sell
    books. If your books cannot be ordered and distributed by ISBN and if they are not listed in
    Books in Print-type listings you may find that your books do not sell. People will assume your
    books do not exist, and even if they do know they exist they may consider it too much of a
    bother to handle them since they will need to do so using full title and manual ordering.
  7. What does a publisher have to do to obtain ISBNs in India?
    Ans. Please visit http://isbnnew.inflibnet.ac.in/ and go through How to Apply. All the applicants,
    be it already existing registrants or new registrants have to register fresh on the newly
    redesigned ISBN portal for ISBN allotment. Although already existing registrants can switch
    over to the New portal, after utilizing all the allotted ISBN on the older version of isbn.gov.in
  8. Who can assign ISBNs to a publisher?
    Ans. There are over 160 ISBN Agencies worldwide, and each ISBN Agency is appointed as
    the exclusive agent responsible for assigning ISBNs to publishers residing in their country or
    geographic territory. The RRRNA ISBN is the only source authorized to assign ISBNs to
    publishers supplying an address in India. Once an ISBN block of numbers has been assigned
    to a publisher by the ISBN Agency, the publisher can assign ISBNs to publications it holds
    publishing rights to. However, after the ISBN Agency assigns ISBNs to a publisher, that
    publisher cannot resell, re-assign, transfer, or split its list of ISBNs among other publishers.
    These guidelines have long been established to ensure the veracity, accuracy and continued
    utility of the International ISBN Standard. If you are a New Publisher, you should apply for your
    own ISBNs and plan to identify and circulate your books properly in the industry supply chain.
  9. Fees/costs for obtaining an ISBN from RRRNA?
    Ans. Currently it is free.
  10. Do books need an ISBN if they are not going to be sold?
    Ans. It is desirable that all books made publicly available, whether they are available for sale
    or on a gratis basis, are identified by ISBNs.
  11. Do I need to have an ISBN?
    Ans. The international ISBN system does not impose any legal requirement to have an ISBN,
    and the ISBN conveys no legal or copyright protection.
  12. I am publishing in India, but may I obtain my ISBNs from a different agency?
    Ans. No. All publishers should apply to the appropriate agency that is responsible for the
    country in which they are based. If you have genuine reasons that may prevent you from
    applying to the Indian agency, then you should contact the International ISBN Agency for
    advice in the first instance but you should not contact another ISBN agency instead.
  13. I am publishing a book in a foreign language. Should it have an ISBN of the
    country in whose language the book is written?
    Ans. No. It is the country in which the publisher is based which determines the group identifier,
    and not the language of the text.
  14. Does a price change require a new ISBN?
    Ans. No.
  15. Where should I display an ISBN?
    Ans. On a printed book an ISBN should be included on the copyright page (also called the title
    verso page) or at the foot of the title page if there is no room on the copyright page. If there is
    no barcode, then the ISBN should also be on the back cover or jacket preferably at the lower
    right. In the case of electronic publications (such as compact discs, online publications), the
    ISBN must appear on the title display, that is the first display page or on the screen that
    displays the title or its equivalent (e.g., the initial screen displayed when the content is first
    accessed and/or on the screen that carries the copyright notice). For eligible
    educational/instructional films, videos, and transparencies, the ISBN must appear on the credit
    titles. If the publication is issued in a container that is an integral part of the publication (e.g.,
    a compact disc, cassette, or diskette), the ISBN should be displayed on any labels included
    with that container. If it is not possible to display the ISBN on the container or its label, then
    the ISBN should be displayed at the bottom of the back of any permanent packaging for that
    container (e.g., the box, sleeve, or frame).
  16. What is an imprint?
    Ans. An imprint of a publisher is a trade name under which a work is published.
  17. What is the difference between a bar code and an ISBN?
    Ans. ISBN is a number. A bar code is the graphic with vertical lines that encodes numerical
    information for scanning purposes. An ISBN and a bar code are two different things.
  18. I have already published my book, so now can I apply for an ISBN?
    Ans. Yes, an ISBN is assigned to each edition and variation of a book except reprinting.
  19. Do ISBNs have to be assigned to books that are not being sold?
    Ans. No, they do not have to be assigned, but they can be.
  20. What distinguishes a new edition from a reprint?
    Ans. A reprint involves printing more copies without making significant changes. Possibly a
    few typos are being corrected. A new edition indicates a significant change; the content has
    likely been changed in a way that could lead a consumer to complain that what they received
    was not what they had anticipated. Alternatively, text has been altered to include a new
    component, such a preamble, an appendix, or more information. Or the information has been
    updated. Alternately, the book’s layout has changed.
  21. Does a second edition retain the same ISBN if it has the same title as the first?
    Ans. No, a new edition is treated as a unique product with its own ISBN.
  22. How are ISBNs assigned to multi-volume works?
    Ans. ISBNs are assigned to the volumes as they are sold as products. If they are only available
    as a set, the set gets one ISBN. If each volume is available separately and as a set, each
    volume gets an ISBN and the set gets an ISBN.
  23. How are ISBNs assigned to books in a series?
    Ans. An ISBN is assigned to each book in the series. A series of books is also eligible for an
    ISSN (International Standard Series Number), available from the National Institute of Science
    Communication & Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR), National Science Library (NSL) & ISSN
    National Centre, India.
  24. How are ISBNs assigned to packages?
    Ans. ISBNs are assigned to the package and to the individual products in the package if (a)
    the product is eligible for an ISBN and (b) the products are sold separately. Any product that
    needs to be ordered as a distinct product and that is eligible for an ISBN, should be assigned
    an ISBN in addition to the package itself, if it contains items that are eligible for an ISBN.
  25. Can ISBNs be assigned to magazines?
    Ans. ISBNs are not assigned to magazines, academic journals or other periodicals. However,
    if a single issue of a periodical is being sold as a book, then that issue alone may be assigned
    an ISBN.
  26. What products and entities are eligible for ISBNs?
    Ans. The ISBN is intended for a monographic publication: text that stands on its own as a
    product, whether printed, audio or electronic. ISBNs are never assigned to music,
    performances or images, such as art prints or photographs. Consult this chart to determine if
    specific products/entities are eligible for ISBNs.
  27. Can ISBNs be assigned to Magazines?
    Ans. ISBNs are not assigned to magazines, academic journals or other periodicals. However,
    if a single issue of a periodical is being sold as a book, then that issue alone may be assigned
    an ISBN.
  28. Can ISBNs be assigned to Magazines?
    Ans. ISBNs are not assigned to magazines, academic journals or other periodicals. However,
    if a single issue of a periodical is being sold as a book, then that issue alone may be assigned
    an ISBN.
  29. Do I have to identify different formats for digital publications with separate
    Ans. Yes, whenever anyone in the supply chain needs to identify them separately, then each
    product needs a unique ISBN. When there are different formats available that operate on
    different devices or software programs, the end user has to know what format to order.
    Therefore each different format has to be identified by its own ISBN.
  30. Does a change of format require a new ISBN?
    Ans. Yes, different formats need different ISBNs in order, for example, that a customer who
    wants to buy a book in hardback rather than paperback can be confident that they will receive
    the correct format.
  31. I would like to issue a new ISBN for marketing reasons. Is this permissible?
    Ans. No, if there is no change of text, format or binding which would justify a new ISBN.
    However, a separate ISBN may be assigned if required by the supply chain.
  32. I am reprinting a book with a price change. Is a new ISBN required?
    Ans. No, a price change does not require a new ISBN.
  33. I am publishing a book with another publisher. Whose ISBN should appear in
    the book?
    Ans. In the case of a joint publication, both publishers are entitled to have an ISBN on the
    book. It should be made clear which number identifies which publisher. However, if only one
    publisher is to hold stock and distribute the publication, then it is recommended that the ISBN
    of the publisher who is responsible for distribution appears in bar-coded form on the back
    cover of the book.
  34. Can I use the same ISBN for the same Titles which have different Product Forms
    (Hardback and E-Book Reader)?
    Ans. No, unique ISBN should be taken for the same Titles with different Product Forms. Same
    ISBN should be only used for Re-printing the same book. In other cases such as changes in
    title, content, author, product forms, product compositions, different ISBN must be used.

  35. Can we use an ISBN again?
    Ans. No, once an ISBN is attached to a book, it can never be used again. Since libraries and
    used book dealers continue to catalog and trade a title even after it is no longer in print, the
    ISBN cannot be used again.
  36. Can the buyer of one company utilize the ISBNs from the purchased company,
    or do they need to obtain new ISBNs?
    Ans. All of the company’s ISBNs may be transferred to the acquiring entity. The company may
    continue to use its own particular ISBN prefix even if it is a division or subsidiary of the new
    corporation. The new parent company may use the ISBNs at its discretion for any title it
    publishes if the acquired company is reduced to an imprint (a brand) with no independent legal
  37. I want to confirm that the ISBN I received from my printer is in fact in my name.
    How can I move the ISBN?
    Ans. Individual transfers of ISBNs are not permitted. A self-publisher requires their own ISBN
    if they wish to be recognized as the publisher. An ISBN cannot be transferred, sold, or given
    away by a printing company or publisher services provider to a client.
  38. Whose ISBN appears on the book if more than one publisher or self-publisher is
    responsible for its publication?
    Ans. The ISBN is printed on the book by the publisher who fulfills orders. However, in the case
    of a jointly published work, both publishers are allowed to list their ISBNs on the book.
  39. What can be done when a book is printed with the wrong ISBN?
    Ans. The book must receive a brand-new, unpublished ISBN, stickers or labels must be
    produced and attached to the books, and all organizational databases must be updated with
    the new, accurate ISBN.
  40. Can I use a friend’s or family member’s ISBN?
    Ans. The ISBNs cannot be given to a friend or family because they are regarded as the
    property of a publishing company or individual.
  41. Whose ISBN appears on my book if I use a print-on-demand (POD) publisher?
    Ans. The ISBN is acquired by whoever is designated as the publisher. The POD is typically
    the publisher and has their ISBN placed on the book. Very rarely, the self-publisher serves as
    both the publisher and the POD due to the contractual arrangements. Because the POD fills
    orders, it frequently serves as the publisher.
  42. Is it possible to assign ISBNs based on access rights?
    Ans. Yes, a product can be given a unique ISBN if it has to be traced throughout the supply
    chain for trade, discovery, and reporting. Separate reporting is needed to evaluate differences
    between access rights programmes for customers.
  43. Who is eligible to obtain ISBN from Indian National ISBN Agency (RRRNA)?

    Ans. A person or entity who publishes from an office of business that is based in India. Authors
    who self-publish must reside in India to obtain ISBNs from the Indian ISBN Agency. The
    publisher’s nationality, citizenship or intended market are irrelevant in the assignment of
  44. My printer offered to arrange an ISBN for my book. Is that OK?
    Ans. Usually the printer is not the publisher, but someone who takes an order from the
    publisher to print the book. Of course the printer can help the publisher with the ISBN
    application forms but it is required that the ISBN registrant element and the ISBN are
    registered in the name of the genuine publisher, to ensure the traceability of the publication in
    databases after it has been published.
  45. I am an author/self-publisher and want to publish my E-book by means of a
    self-publishing platform. The platform has given the book an ISBN from its own
    ISBN registrant element. Is that OK?
    Ans. In that case the platform will be considered the publisher. This is not recommended
    practice. If you later break the relationship with the platform and decide to distribute your book
    elsewhere, you will need a new ISBN of your own. It is therefore better to obtain an ISBN of
    your own from the start. RRRNA can assign ISBNs from ranges reserved for small publishers
    or even assign single ISBNs.
  46. Can I reassign ISBNs to some other books when the books to which they were
    originally allocated were never published at all?
    Ans. No
  47. Is it possible to reassign ISBNs when the books to which they were allocated are
    out of print?
    Ans. No, an ISBN identifies a given title and its edition and binding for all time. Even if out of
    print, it will still exist in some shops, and will certainly still exist in libraries.
  48. Does a change of author’s name require a new ISBN?
    Ans. Yes – for example when an author decides to use their own name rather than a
  49. I am taking over another firm which already has an ISBN registrant element. All
    future books will be published under my name. Can I renumber all the other
    firm’s titles?
    Ans. Not until they are reprinted under your own publisher name or imprint and carry your
    publisher name.

  50. What is ONIX?
    Ans. The ONIX (ONline Information eXchange) for Books file format is an XML-based standard
    for book and other book-related products metadata in order to provide a consistent method to
    share product information for a variety of stakeholders including: publishers, retailers, and
    supply chain partners. The ONIX for Books format is the international standard for
    representing product information in electronic format and is heavily utilized around the globe.
    ONIX fields are used to describe a publication in the ISBN India online system.
  51. Which Products can be described through ONIX?
    Ans. While the file format is named ONIX for Books, additional products and media can be
    described using the file format including: audio-books, recorded video, e-books, and
    educational software etc.
  52. Is ONIX only used for ‘books’?
    Ans. Although the format is formally known as ONIX for Books, it has always covered other
    media such as audiobooks or recorded video and other products produced by publishers and
    other organizations which are distributed through the book supply chain. This includes
    educational software, cartographic products, some toys and games, promotional apparel,
    point-of-sale items and – of course – digital audiobooks, e-books and electronic devices like
    e-book readers.
  53. What is Product Composition?
    Ans. A Product Composition is a metadata field in ONIX Schema, where the applicant can
    select the appropriate structure of Product according to the requirement. In ISBN Portal, while
    entering the details of the Book, Applicants will be able to see five types of Product
  54. What is Product Form?
    Ans. To describe the product more closely, or to provide additional information, you can opt
    for detailed product form information in the Product Form field respectively. Under this field,
    you will find a broad selection allowing you to describe your product more closely according
    to its form. This includes types of binding, book, audio and video formats and compatible
    operating systems.
  55. What is Single Component Retail Product Book and Multiple Component Retail
    Product Book?
    Ans. Single Component Retail Product Book is retailed as a single product. Multiplecomponent products retailed as a whole. For instance, if a Book is retailed as a single product,
    opting Single Component Retails Product will be most suitable. In case, if there are 3 volumes
    for a Title which are retailed together, it can be included in the Multiple Component Retail
    Furthermore another product compositions are Multiple-item collection which are retailed as
    separate parts which is used only when an ONIX record is required for a collection-as-a-whole,
    even though it is not currently retailed as such, Trade-only product means product available
    to the book trade, but not for retail sale, and not carrying retail items, e.g. empty dumpbin,
    empty counter pack, promotional material, Multiple-item trade-only pack means product
    available to the book trade, but not for general retail sale as a whole. It carries multiple
    components for retailing as separate items, e.g. shrink-wrapped trade pack, filled dumpbin,
    and filled counter pack, Multiple-item pack carrying multiple components, primarily for retailing
    as separate items. The pack may be split and retailed as separate items or retailed as a single

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