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What is ISBN (International Standard Book Number)?

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a 13-digit number used to uniquely identify a book. Once assigned to a publication, the ISBN may not be changed, replaced, or re-used. ISBNs consist of 13 digits: the 3-digit prefix 978, denoting a book-type product, followed by a 9-digit main element, and lastly a check digit, which is a single-digit Arabic numeral for validating the rest of the number. 

The registration group identifiers used in Estonia are 978-9916-, 978-9949- and 978-9985-. 

ISBN 978
ISBN prefiks
registration group identifier (country and language)
publisher identifier
title identifier
check digit

The use of ISBNs in Estonia is regulated by the standard EVS-ISO 2108:2019 – Information and documentation: International Standard Book Number (ISBN). 
The EAN number at the bottom of the barcode of a book is identical to the 13-digit ISBN (except printed without hyphens). 

The Estonian ISBN Agency forwards the contact details of Estonian publishers who have joined the ISBN system to the Global Register of Publishers (GRP) managed by the International ISBN Agency 

The information collected may include personal data subject to the General Data Protection Regulation: names of individuals, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and personal e-mail addresses of individuals Please find the general information about data protection of ISBN registrants.

Miks on ISBN kasulik?

The ISBN allows for the quick and accurate identification of the publication; 

Facilitates book ordering and sales; 

Simplifies accounting. 

ISBNs are issued for:

  • books;
  • brochures;
  • Braille books;
  • serial publications not published under a common title;
  • educational films, videos, and transparencies;
  • audiobooks (cassette, CD, or DVD);
  • sets consisting of, e.g., a book and an electronic and/or audiovisual publication;
  • computer software for educational purposes only;
  • maps, atlases;
  • micropublications (microfilms and maps);
  • electronic publications (DVDs, CD-ROMs, online publications).

ISBNs are not issued for:

  • newspapers and periodicals (ISSN), except serial publications not published under a common title, which are issued both standard numbers;
  • music recordings;
  • publications of transitory relevance (calendars, diaries, advertising materials, sales catalogues, price lists, product information sheets, leaflets, instructions, prospectuses, flyers;
    programmes for the theatre, concerts, and other types of performances or events, lists of exhibits without additional text, forms, questionnaires, colouring books without text, etc.;
  • musical scores (ISMN);
  • art prints and folders without a title page and text, posters, postcards;
  • personal documents (for example, electronic résumés and profiles);
  • separately published normative documents (standards, patents);
  • electronic bulletin boards;
  • e-mails and other electronic correspondence;
  • games;
  • websites;
  • electronic publications with variable text.

What is the difference between ISBNs, ISMNs, and ISSNs?

ISBNs and ISSNs are used as identifiers of books and periodicals respectively. ISBNs are assigned to all single- or multi-volume books as well as non-book publications which are not published as an open-ended series.

Book series and serial publications not published under a common title are given both standard numbers. Each issue of a serial publication receives a unique ISBN number, while the ISSN remains the same as long as there are no changes in the name of the publication.

The ISMN is the international standard music number, which is issued for musical scores.

Location of ISBN in a book

The ISBN appears in the lower-left corner of the back of the title page of the book, (in at least a 9-point font), as well as at the bottom of the outside of the back cover. The ISBN must also be legible on the barcode of the product. For audiovisual and electronic publications, the ISBN is printed on both the storage medium and its cover. Each annex to a book must have its own ISBN. If a book has two or more ISBNs, they must all be printed on the reverse of the title page. In the case of a multi-volume book, the ISBN of the full book appears first on the reverse of the title page, followed, underneath it, by the ISBN of the specific volume. Only the ISBN of the volume is printed on the back cover of the book.

ISBN and EAN code

Publishers are also able to request the download of the EAN or barcode file from the Publisher Portal.

Applying for an ISBN in Estonia

The Estonian ISBN Agency has been operating at the National Library of Estonia since 1992 and is the only issuer of publisher identifiers in Estonia. The service is provided free of charge.

Got any questions? Contact us:
Tel: 630 7372
E-post: [email protected]