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

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.

What is an ASIN?
ASIN is an abbreviation for Amazon Standard Identification Numbers. The ASIN is a unique block 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 doesn’t need to be concerned with the ASIN.

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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 fictitious 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’s 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 to be able to communicate ISBNs as GTIN-13s. Currently, a publisher does not need to be concerned with the GTIN.

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 has 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.

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.

About Joseph C. Kunz, Jr.

I am an author, husband, father of twins, grandfather, and small business owner near New York City. I created this website to share my self-publishing and small-business adventures and insights.
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