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Issue 02, 2007 (01 February)
 Industrial Policy

China Adopts New ISBN System

From 1 January 2007, China has updated its China Standard Book Number (CSBN) that had been in use for two decades to align with the latest version of the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) system adopted by over 160 countries worldwide, increasing the digits from 10 to 13.

Readers generally pay little attention to the digits preceded by ISBN that appear in every book. In fact, the digits represent the unique identification of the book and serves as a pass for its publication and distribution worldwide. Some 700,000 publishers from 166 countries and regions around the world have adopted the ISBN since it was introduced in 1970. China joined the international ISBN agency in 1982 and promulgated the first CSBN in 1986. Since its implementation on 1 January 1987, CSBN has been widely applied to books, audio-visual products and electronic publications. It has played a significant role in the different processes of publishing, distribution and library management, as well as the trading of publications.

According to Su Jianzhong, deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) barcode centre and China ISBN Centre, the new version of CSBN (GB/T5795-2006) was jointly released by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, and National Regulatory Commission for Standardisation on 18 December 2006. The new 13-digit CSBN is preceded by ISBN, comprising the prefix number (by EAN UCC), group area code, publisher number, publication serial number and inspection number.

Su pointed out that the new CSBN has expanded the theoretical capacity of the whole system of book codification. The new system clearly sets out the two types of codification formats, CSBN and CSBN barcode. It emphasises that publishers should do their best to ensure that CSBNs are assigned and used exclusively, permanently and specifically. Besides, the scope of CSBNs is now extended from traditional print publications to non-print publications, such as electronic publications, especially online publications via the Internet. Publishers are also required to file the information of their publications for record under the new rule.