ISBN in Malaysia

One of the most important details of any book is actually the ISBN. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is the means by which a books is identified.

I was, therefore, pleased that in today’s StarMag, Daphne Lee wrote a very informative piece on this subject:

ISBNs comprise 13 digits as of January 2007. The change has come about as a result of numbering shortages, which should be good news to book lovers because it means that there are so many books published that we were running out of 10-number combinations.

This is what the 13 numbers mean: The three first numbers (978) is a European Article Number prefix (EAN codes are used worldwide for marking retail goods).

The next group of numbers identify the country of publication. Countries may also be grouped according to language, which is why books published in Britain or the United States are identified with the number zero (0) or one (1), the codes for English-speaking countries. Next comes the publishers code, then the item number, and, finally, the check digit (arrived at by a formula involving the first 12 numbers in the code).

Whether you want to find out if a book is available in a store or you want the staff to order it for you, supplying them with the ISBN will help them identify the right book more quickly and efficiently, avoiding mix-ups with similarly titled books.

To add to Daphne Lee’s article, if you’re intending to self-publish, the National Library of Malaysia is the place to go to get an ISBN for your book. You can do it online by clicking on this link: [note: an english version is also available]

And, more importantly, the application for an ISBN through the National Library is free of charge.

You can contact that the National ISBN Centre at the following address:-
Pusat Bibliografi Negara,
Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia
Tingkat 18, Menara TH Selborn153,
Jalan Tun Razak, 50572 Kuala Lumpur
(Attn: Unit Perkhidmatan Kepada Penerbit)
Tel: 03-26814329, 03-26871700 ext. 4288/4284/4271
Fax: 03-26811676

Once an application is made, all necessary details, i.e. the number that will be provided for your book and the bar code which you will need to give your printers to typeset onto the cover of your book, will be sent to you.

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