What is an ISBN and Where to Find it in a Book                        

An ISBN (or International Standard Book Number) is a unique 10 digit number printed on every new book starting around 1970. Every book sold anywhere in the world should have a unique ISBN, meaning you can find any book in the world simply with that one number. The numbers are assigned by R. R. Bowker in the United States and by a variety of other agencies worldwide. 

Starting on January 1, 2007 all new books have now been assigned a unique thirteen-digit number. The old ten-digit numbering system was about to run out.

Where to find a book's ISBN.

The ISBN is located on the back of the book jacket  nrear the bar code, and on the Copyright Page.

The ISBN on the back of a book looks like this:


The ISBN on the Copyright Page looks like this: 


Search Tip:
You can type the ISBN directly into the search box on Amazon.com, Ebay.com and many other book search sites.

Books to help Identify First Editions

In the book collecting world, there are exceptions to the exceptions, and many publishers indicated "First Edition" in their own unique way. The following books will arm you with years of knowledge found nowhere else. If you buy, collect or sell books, these should be your first investment.

Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions - Sixth Edition Bill McBride. Paperback 2000 Very useful little book. Publishers each have their own way of identifying the first edition (or more correctly - first printing ) of any book they produce. This little book lists most publishers and uses a simplified code system based on the author's experience handling actual first editions.

Points of Issue : A Compendium of Points of Issue of Books by 19th-20th Century Authors. Bill McBride. Paperback 1996. Another pocket-sized companion to the Guide listed above, it's also very useful. This is a list of specific books which have details (points of issue) that determine a first edition .

  ... and my favorite, I highly recommend ... First Editions : A Guide to Identification- Edward N Zempel (Editor). Hardcover 4th Edition (November 2001). More expensive but much easier to read than the McBride books, this is a compilation of publishers actual statements about their methods of identifying first editions. Covers nearly 1700 trade and academic publishers in the US, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. For all bibliophiles.


How do I Identify a First Edition?

How to Open a New Book