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The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique international identifier for monographic publications in print and as e-books. Published as an international standard (ISO 2108) and in wide use since the 1970s, it has been adopted in over 160 countries.

Assigning an ISBN not only provides each publication with a unique identifier that can be used – without ambiguity – by publishers, printers, distributors and wholesalers, retailers, libraries and book buyers, but also allows the association of rich product metadata with a particular publication. Using the ISBN, e-commerce creates a more efficient supply chain, and accumulation of sales data by specific title, edition and format enables the compilation of market statistics and market intelligence. ISBNs can be readily displayed as machine readable bar codes.

For more details of the ISBN system, see the website of the International ISBN Agency.

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