The ISBN — originally based on nine digits, then 10, and now 13 — might be getting shiny, new ISO standards. The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) is looking into the issue and has reviewed an ebook ISBN study conducted by Michael Cairns (@Personanondata) of Information Media Partners.
One of the larger problems highlighted in the study seemed to be a lack of acceptance for a “standard,” with participants calling the ISBN policies “recommendations” or “best practices.” And looking forward to the future of digital publishing and the possibilities of aggregating custom content by consumers has made some publishers wonder if the ISBN will even be needed. And if the ISBN does still have a place, how will it work in this new environment? Lots of work needs to be done before an ISO can be established and ratified, but this study looks like a step in the right direction.
From the report’s executive summary:
Achieving [an ISBN ebook standard] will require closer and more active communication among all concerned parties and potential changes in ISBN policies and procedures. Enforcement of any eventual agreed policy will require commitment from all parties; otherwise, no solution will be effective and, to that end, it would be practical to gain this commitment in advance of defining solutions.
The full ebook ISBN report will be released by BISG in a few weeks.