What is an ISBN?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is the 10-digit number printed on the back cover, and normally also on the copyright page, and it identifies the exact publication you have in your hand. Every book published has its own ISBN. Every edition of the same book has its own number. If there is a hardback and a paperback edition, each has its own ISBN.

The first digit indicates the language it is written in. Books written in English normally have an ISBN starting with a 0- or a 1-.

The second set of numbers is the publisher prefix. Each publisher has its own prefix. For example, –500- means that the book is published by Thames and Hudson Ltd.

The third set refers to the specific title on that publishers list.

The last lone digit is a “control” number.

Having the ISBN of the books you want to order makes things easier, but it is not imperative. In doing the bibliographic research we check the ISBN you give us in any case, because the book may have a different one for the European market, or may have been substituted by the publisher with another one.

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