June 19 – June 26, 2008 Edition

ISBN Agency
Updates Prediction
For 979-Prefix Usage

NEW YORK, NY/6/17/08–The International ISBN Agency has told Authorlink that it is revising its prediction of when the new 979 prefix will begin appearing in ISBN numbers. It had originally predicted the prefix would be assigned beginning in the second quarter of 2008. However, Brian Green, executive director of the International ISBN Agency, now says ” Since we are almost at the end of the second quarter, it is probably safe to revise our prediction of 979-prefixes ISBNs to the 3rd quarter of 2008. It is really rather difficult to predict as it depends entirely on publishers assignment of ISBNs in each country.”

The news is important for everyone in the book trade. Until now, all 13-digit ISBNs have been prefixed by 978, allowing systems to contain both 10- and 13-digit ISBNs for all books. Once the 979 prefixes are introduced, there can be no 10-digit equivalents for 13-digit ISBNs as this might lead to duplication of numbers and confusion in the supply chain. It is therefore essential that book trade and library systems now become entirely prepared to process the full 13-digit identifier.

In an announcement from the Book Industry Study Group last summer, executive director Meg Healy said the move directly affects the entire U.S. book industry. “It marks a decisive point in the transition to ISBN-13, which. . .makes it critical that all systems are now configured to handle the full 13-digit ISBN.”

Brian Green, Executive Director of the International ISBN Agency, commented, “The arrival of 979-prefixed ISBNs means that everyone in the book supply chain, including publishers, distributors, booksellers and libraries, will have to make certain that their systems can deal with the full 13-digit ISBN.”

Additionally, the International ISBN Agency also announced that country prefixes and publisher prefixes will change in the 979-prefixed range of numbers as the system is modified to reduce wasted numbers. National prefixes will be introduced rather than the language-based group prefixes on which the system was initially based.

Further information on the ISBN-13 transition can be obtained from the US ISBN Agency by emailing or by visiting the Book Industry Study Group’s comprehensive ISBN-13 website at