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ISBN Barcodes : Breakdown of a Bookland EAN barcode

Posted on: November 30th, 2015 by Publisher Services
isbn barcode

Bookland EAN ISBN breakdown



An ISBN is a unique identifier for books and book type products. The 13-digit ISBN is used to identify a title and particular format. Retailers and wholesalers rely on standardized ISBN identification to manage inventory and book sales.  For printed books, ISBN barcodes are a required component if you plan to sell your books either online or in a traditional brick/mortar retailer.

In the United States, most retail products are marked with a UPC symbol. The corresponding barcode symbol in use in every other country aside from the United States is the European Article Number (EAN). Every EAN begins with a 2 or 3 digit prefix, which indicates the country of origin. EANs for companies registered in France, for example, might begin with the prefix 34; Japan’s prefix is 49. Since the book industry produces so many products, it has been designated as a country unto itself and has been assigned its own EAN prefix. That prefix is 978 and it signifies Bookland, that wonderful, fictitious country from where all books come.

An EAN which begins with the Bookland prefix 978 is called a Bookland EAN code and is used on books and book related products internationally. The Bookland symbol is the barcode of choice in the book industry because it allows for encodation of ISBNs (the numbers publishers use to identify their products). Since an ISBN is unique to one particular title (or product), the corresponding Bookland EAN symbol is a title-specific marking which is unique for that title. For example, if a title is available in hard cover, soft cover and as an e-book, three unique ISBN Bookland EAN bar codes are required.

The ISBN Bookland EAN Barcode also conveys US pricing information in the add-on barcode symbol.  The 5-digit barcode conveys the pricing information and follows establish rules for encodation.  For prices below $99.00, a 5 is added to the right followed by the four digit price (no decimal point).  Many US retailers and states also require a printed price to also be included.