ISBN: Some common questions answered.


What is an ISBN?

  • ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, the unique code assigned to a book. It is not mandatory, but eases other operations such as with book distribution channels.

Which publications can carry the ISBN?

  • ISBN is often only allotted for hard cover, paper back or e-books. In addition to these, Booklets, research papers and Braille publications can also carry an ISBN, as can maps, educational/instructional films including videos, audio-books on CD or DVD known as talking books. Periodicals and newspapers do not need an ISBN.

What is the role of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in all this?

  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education is the nodal agency for Raja Rammohun Roy National Agency for ISBN.
  • The address is: Room No. 13, 4th Floor,
    Jeevandeep Building, Parliament Street,
    New Delhi 110001
    The phone number is 011-23369668.

How to get ISBN Number in India?

  • ISBNs are allotted to publishers/self publishers (in blocks of 10 or 100) by a organization in each country.
  • Getting an ISBN in India is free and it is allotted by Raja Rammohan Roy National Agency at the address shown above. You can download the application form for ISBN Registration, from their website.
  • Else, either visit or write to the Raja Raja Rammohan Roy National Agency for a hard-copy form.
  • Whether downloaded or on the hard copy, fill it in carefully. The form must have the requisite ID proof attached and a self-addressed, stamped envelope enclosed when you post it to the Raja Rammohan Roy National Agency in New Delhi. Make sure you pen in the right address shown above.

What does the ISBN signify?

  • There are four parts in an ISBN. The four parts of an ISBN signify firstly the Group or country identifier which identifies a national or geographic grouping of publishers; then comes the Publisher identifier which identifies a particular publisher within a group; third is the Title identifier which identifies a particular title or edition of a title; at the end the Check digit, a single digit which validates the ISBN.

How is the ISBN used?

  • It provides an International Publisher’s Identifier machine readable number.
  • The ISBN uniquely identifies any book in the electronic point-of-sale (POS) system in bookshops.
  • In the book trade the ISBN is meant for use not only for authors, publishers and editors, but also for printers, booksellers and distributors.

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