Book Industry Product Identifiers: ASIN, EAN, GTIN, and ISBN: A Guide for Self-Publishers

Here is a quick primer on the different book identification numbers and barcodes that self-publishers need to know about. Each one is used throughout the world as a way to identify a specific book.

What is an ASIN?
ASIN is an abbreviation for Amazon Standard Identification Numbers. The ASIN is a unique blocks of 10 letters and numbers that identify a specific item. For books and pamphlets, the ASIN is the same as the ISBN-10 number. A publisher does not need to be concerned with the ASIN.

What is an EAN (Bookland EAN)?
EAN is an abbreviation for European Article Number, now called International Article Number. The EAN is a barcode and a 13-digit product identification number. Each EAN uniquely identifies the book, the manufacturer, and the book’s attributes. Typically, the EAN is printed on the book’s back cover as a bar code and number. Bookland is a fictitious country created in order to reserve a unique country code prefix for EAN identifiers of published books – currently the code is 978. The price barcode is an EAN-5. It is placed next to the EAN-13 on the back-cover of a book.

What is a GTIN?
GTIN is an abbreviation for Global Trade Item Number. The GTIN is a unique and universal identification number used to find product information across databases. GTINs include EANs, ISBNs, UPCs, and JANs (Japanese Article Numbers). The US-ISBN Agency requires publishers be able to communicate ISBNs as GTIN-13s. Currently, a publisher does not need to be concerned with the GTIN.

What is an ISBN?
ISBN is an abbreviation for International Standard Book Number. The ISBN is a unique book identification number. Each ISBN identifies a specific book. ISBN have either 10 or 13 digits. When you purchase an ISBN, it will be given to you in 10-digit format and 13-digit format. Typically, both ISBNs are printed on the back cover of the book. R.R. Bowker, LLC, is the official US-ISBN agency. Each version, edition, and binding of a book (ebook, paperback, hardcover, first edition, second, etc.) must have its own ISBN.

As a self-publisher, you must include the ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 on your copyright page. In addition, you must place the Bookland EAN barcode and number along with both ISBNs on the back cover. The ISBN-13 is the only identification number you need to purchase. The Bookland EAN-13 and EAN-5 barcodes can be created as one image, on the internet, for free.

Joseph C. Kunz, Jr. is an author, publisher, educator, business manager, and entrepreneur. Life-long love affair with books and reading. Very excited about being part of the new media movement. Known for casual, easy-to-read writing style and ability to explain complex topics in an understandable way. “If you are serious about your work you should self-publish. Retain creative control. Retain the profits. Enjoy the satisfaction and status that comes with being published.” Visit Kunz’s blog at for an insider’s guide to becoming a financially successful and happy self-publisher.

Author: Joseph C Kunz, Jr
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