Book Industry Product Identifiers: ASIN, EAN, GTIN, And ISBN: A Guide For Self-Publishers

Introduction
Here is a quick primer for self-publishers on the different  book identification numbers and barcodes that self-publishers need to know about.  Each one is used throughout the world as a way to identify a specific book.

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What is an ASIN?
ASIN is an abbreviation for Amazon Standard Identification Numbers. The ASIN is a unique blocks of 10 letters and numbers that identify a specific item. For books and pamphlets, the ASIN is the same as the ISBN-10 number. A publisher does not need to be concerned with the ASIN.

Bookland EAN & ISBN

Back cover showing bookland EAN barcode and EAN-13 number, with US price barcode add-on, and with ISBN-10 & ISBN-13.

What is an EAN (Bookland EAN)?
EAN is an abbreviation for European Article Number, now called International Article Number. The EAN is a barcode and a 13-digit product identification number. Each EAN uniquely identifies the book, the manufacturer, and the book’s attributes. Typically, the EAN is printed on the book’s back cover as a bar code and number. Bookland is a ficticious country created in order to reserve a unique country code prefix for EAN identifiers of published books – currently the code is 978. The price barcode is an EAN-5. It is placed next to the EAN-13 on the back-cover of a book.

What is a GTIN?
GTIN is an abbreviation for Global Trade Item Number. The GTIN is a unique and universal identification number used to find product information across databases. GTINs include EANs, ISBNs, UPCs, and JANs (Japanese Article Numbers). The US-ISBN Agency requires publishers be able to communicate ISBNs as GTIN-13s. Currently, a publisher does not need to be concerned with the GTIN.

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Copyright page

Copyright page showing ISBN-10 and ISBN-13.

What is an ISBN?
ISBN is an abbreviation for International Standard Book Number. The ISBN is a unique  book identification number. Each ISBN identifies a specific book. ISBN have either 10 or 13 digits. When you purchase an ISBN, it will be given to you in 10-digit format and 13-digit format. Typically, both ISBNs are printed on the back cover of the book. R.R. Bowker, LLC, is the official US-ISBN agency. Each version, edition, and binding of a book (ebook, paperback, hardcover, first edition, second, etc.) must have its own ISBN.

Conclusion
As a self-publisher, you must include the ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 on your copyright page. In addition, you must place the Bookland EAN barcode and number along with both ISBNs on the back cover. The ISBN-13 is the only identification number you need to purchase. The Bookland EAN-13 and EAN-5 barcodes can be created as one image, on the internet, for free.

This article is also posted on EzineArticles.com

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About Joseph C. Kunz, Jr.

Author, self-publisher, educator, infopreneur, small-business manager and marketing expert, husband, and father of twins. Kunz is also a digital-media junkie fascinated by the intersection of media, design, education, and technology. Kunz is the founder of Dickson Keanaghan, LLC, a medical training and publishing company. Kunz shares his self-publishing and small-business management experiences on his blog at http://KunzOnPublishing.com.
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