[FoRK] Book Mooch

Ken Meltsner <meltsner at alum.mit.edu> on Mon Oct 29 17:12:09 PDT 2007

ISBN goes back (pre-UPC) to 1970; it became an international standard in 1974.

UPC codes go back to the early '70s, it appears.

Wikipedia didn't furnish me with the intersection of the two pieces of
information -- when did publishers start using UPCs to encode ISBNs on
their books?  I suspect it was the late seventies, although it
probably wasn't widespread/mandatory until the big chains started to
require UPCs on the books they  sold.

Magazines, by the way, are given an ISSN (International Standard
Serial Number, I believe), but these are assigned to the title, not
the individual issue, and each issue may also get an ISBN.

[Thanks, as always, to Wikipedia for the above info.]

Finally, I've said it elsewhere, but be careful: like most natural
"unique" identifiers, ISBNs aren't perfect primary keys (in the DB
sense).  Many publishers accidentally reused ISBNs for totally
different books, or failed to change the assigned number when a book
was revised.  They also have been inconsistent about assigning ISBNs
to editions sold in several countries.  And sometimes, you end up with
an ISBN that looks like the publisher just made up a number because
Waldenbooks demanded one.

Ken Meltsner

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