This Week is the 50th Anniversary of the ISBN
The idea for the system started in the UK prompted by WH Smith announcing in 1965 that they wanted to move to a computerized warehouse within two years. There were a number of reports and working parties and eventually a 9-digit number, including a final “check digit” to validate the whole number, was proposed. The UK was the first to adopt this “Standard” Book Number and the first registration agency was operated on behalf of the trade by J Whitaker and Sons Ltd. – its success was immediate. Soon RR Bowker in US, and national libraries and bibliographic services in Canada, Australia, Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands also wanted to join the system. So, to accommodate this expansion to other countries, the number was increased to 10 digits and became an International Standard under the auspices of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1970. Following later developments, the ISBN has been a 13-digit number since 1 January 2007.