ISBN 10 vs ISBN 13: Difference and Comparison

As civilization, science and the whole world progressed, new things were developed, many inventions were made, or new things were discovered.

Some things are so close to each other that they are easy to identify, while some things require a code to identify, which is very easy. 

These codes are known as identifiers, which distinguish one object, subject, or substance from another and make it unique.

Many industries, including chemistry, government agencies, business, taxation, computer science, and book production, use identifiers.


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Gordon Foster came up with a book identification based on the Standard Book Numbering (SBN) code in 1966. Different ISBNs are assigned to different types of books, such as paperbacks and hardcover versions.

Key Takeaways

  1. ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 are two different standards for identifying books.
  2. ISBN-10 has 10 digits, while ISBN-13 has 13 digits.
  3. The main difference between the two standards is that ISBN-13 includes a prefix that indicates the country or region of the publisher.

ISBN 10 vs ISBN 13

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 10 or 13-digit code used to uniquely identify an edition of a book title from a particular publisher. The ISBN 10 has 10 digits, which starts with a group identifier to identify a geographical area and ends with a check digit. ISBN 13 has 13 digits that begin with a prefix -978 or -979 and end with a check digit. It was introduced to increase the availability of ISBNs around the world.

ISBN 10 vs ISBN 13

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) discovered this system in 1970.   It has 10 digits, wherein the last digit validates the first 9 numbers, called the check digit.

The check digit must be in the range 0 to 10, and it’s computed in a way where each digit would be multiplied by its place, and the sum of all product modulo 11 is 0.

ISBN 13 is developed for published books. It has 13 digits, in which the last digit is the same as the ISBN 10 system. ISBN 13 is the current version to identify the publications and was adopted because of the shortage of unique identifiers.

It has been in use since 1 Jan 2007, and 979 is used as a prefix.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonISBN 10ISBN 13
DefinitionIt’s the first version of the system to identify the product by the publisher, sellers, etc which is 10 digits longIts latest version is used as an identifier which is 13 digits long for the books or publications.
SystemThis is the Old systemThis is the new system 
Beginning numbersNo prefix is usedIt starts with 978/979
OriginFirst originated in 1970It has been in use since 1st January 2007
SectionIt has 4 sections in 10 digits long identifierIt has 5 sections in 13 digits long identifier

What is ISBN 10?

An ISBN is basically an identifier that is used by sellers, publishers, and other related entities for ordering, listing, recording sales, etc. The ISBN identifies the publisher, title of the book, and edition.

ISBN 10 identifier could be broken into 4 sections, which are group identifier, publisher identifier, title identifier, and a check digit.

Group Identifier: It identifies the area or country, and it could be 5 digits long at most and a bare minimum of 1 digit.

Publisher Identifier: It identifies the publisher of the book and is at most 7 digits long

Title Identifier: It identifies the title or edition of the book and is at most 6 digits long.

Check Digit: It validates the first 9 numbers.

Example: ISBN 0-545-01022-5, the first digit 0 identifies the region, 545 identifies the publisher, 01022 identifies the edition/title of the book product, and 5 is the check digit.

The check digit of ISBN 10 must be in the range 0 to 10 and must be the sum of the first 9 digits multiplied by any number in the sequence between 10, so modulo 11 of the sum of product is always 0, which is used for authenticity as well.

isbn 10 scaled

What is ISBN 13?

The ISBN 13 is also used for the identification of book-related products and came into existence because of a shortage of unique numbers, so to increase the range, ISO decided to bring a new version of ISBN. 

ISBN 13 identifier could be broken into 5 sections, which are:

The prefix element, the registration group element, the registrar element, the publication element, and the check digit of the rest of the ISBN-13 version are identical to ISBN 10.

Prefix element: A prefix element is three digits long, which forms a universal product code known as an EAN. Currently, both 979/978 are used as Prefix Elements.

Registration group element: It identifies the geographical region, language area, or Country. It could be at most 5 digits long and a minimum of 1 digit long.

Registrant element: It identifies the Publisher or individual or imprint who is publishing the book or related product like a journal or paper, etc. It could be at most 7 digits long and a minimum of 1 digit long.

Publication element: It identifies the edition and format of a specific title. It could be 7 at most 7 digits long and a minimum of 1 digit long.

Check digit: It is the last digit in the ISBN 13 identifier, which mathematically validates the rest of the number. It is calculated using a Modulus 10 system.

Main Differences Between ISBN 10 and ISBN 13

  1. ISBN 10 and ISBN 13 is that ISBN 10 has 10 digits, whereas ISBN 13 has 13 digits.
  2. One is the first version of the system, while the other one is the latest version of the system. 
  3. In 1970, ISBN 10 was developed by the International Organization by Standardization (ISO), whereas ISBN 13 was developed for published books. It has 13 digits, in which the last digit is the check digit.
  4. There is no prefix in the ISBN 10 system. On the other hand, ISBN 13 has 978 as a prefix.
  5. ISBN 10 identifier is divided into 4 sections whereas ISBN 13 has 5 sections

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