Barcodes for Books and MagazinesMarch 27, 2010
“How do I get a barcode for my Book or Magazine?” This question regularly arises, and usually requires an urgent answer. Many authors get as far as having their book or magazine ready to print, and then suddenly realize that they need a barcode number on it.
It is possible to just purchase a standard EAN-13 retail barcode number to put on a book or magazine. However, it is much more common to get an ISBN or ISSN number for the publication, and then to use this number as a basis for the barcode number.
ISBN (International Standard Book Numbers) and ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) are a unique identifier assigned to each edition of every published book, book-like product, magazine and serial. In different countries, the process and cost for obtaining an ISBN or ISSN number is different. In some countries, the same agency issues both ISBN and ISSN numbers – in other countries, they are issued by different agencies.
In New Zealand, both ISBN and ISSN numbers are issued by the NZ National Library for free. In Australia, the Australian National Library assigns ISSN numbers (for magazines) and the ISBN Agency issues ISBN numbers, with some associated costs.
Once you have obtained your ISBN or ISSN number, it needs to be converted to a barcode number. There are straight forward procedures for this, which depend somewhat on the nature of your number. ISBN numbers come in 10 digit or 13 digit lengths, with different conversion processes for each.
ISSN numbers are normally 8 digits long, and need to be converted to 13 digit format for the barcode. With one ISSN number, it is possible to create up to 100 different barcode numbers. Hence, it is possible to put different barcode numbers on different issues of the same magazine. One relatively common method is to create a different barcode number for each issue of the year – for example a magazine that is issued four times each year might have four different barcode numbers (one for each issue), that are then reused again the following year. For magazines that are issued frequently (weekly or monthly), it is more common to use the same barcode number on every issue. A quick way to research this in your area is to go to a magazine store and have a look at the barcode numbers on the magazines – this way you will get a good idea of what is commonly done.
Your ISBN or ISSN number needs to be converted to a barcode image, which can be incorporated in the cover of your book or magazine. There si software available on the internet that claims to provide this service for free. However, like many free things, the quality it produces is often not good. When you are spending lots of money printing a book or magazine, it is important not to skimp on the cost of a barcode image. Purchasing a barcode image from a reputable company like Barcodes NZ is relatively cheap, and the images they send you are created with high quality software specifically designed to create barcode images.
Even though getting a barcode is one of the last things considered by authors and magazine editors, it need not be a long or painful process. Obtaining an ISBN or ISSN number is relatively fast, and then using professional barcode services to turn this number into a barcode is quick and inexpensive.
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