Answered By: eTeam Support
Last Updated: Nov 30, 2015     Views: 78

ISBN stands for "International Standard Book Number," which is a number that uniquely identifies published books and book-like materials. The purpose of the ISBN is to identify the specific edition or version of a published book. ISBNs are mostly used by booksellers, wholesalers, and distributors for buying and selling books. ISBNs are similar to ISSNs for journals and magazines.

Since 1970, all published books have a unique ISBN. In 2007, ISBNs changed from 10 digits to 13 digits. ISBN's typically appear on the book's back cover near the UPC code or on the "verso" page, which is the back-side of the title page where you can find detailed publisher information about the book. Here are two examples:

Example ISBNs above the UPC code on the back cover. Adapted with permission from

In many cases, you can find books in the library's catalog or databases by searching for the ISBN of the book. For example, here's how to search by ISBN using the Advanced Search feature in Discover:

Discover Advanced Search with ISBN search callout

When searching by ISBN, try the number with and without dashes. Databases will respond differently to the dashes, so it is best to try both ways if one way doesn't work. Also, if the ISBN includes an X, be sure to include it, too.

If you are unsure of how to search by ISBN in a particular database, or if you have additional questions, please contact the Information Services Desk at (912)478-5645.