NISO Endorses BISG Policy on the Use of ISBNs for Ebooks

Baltimore, MD - December 8, 2011 - The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is pleased to support and endorse the Book Industry Study Group's new policy statement, Best Practices for Identifying Digital Products. This publication will help to clarify the increasingly complex problems associated with the identification of electronic books in the supply chain.
The BISG Identification of E-books Working Group, led by Phil Madans, Director of Publishing Standards and Practices at Hachette Book Group, has been at work for the past 18 months discussing the myriad ways in which e-books are produced, distributed and need to be identified in the publishing, distribution and library marketplaces. The rules for assigning International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) have been inconsistently applied to electronic books and this variability is beginning to create problems with distribution systems based upon ISBN. The new BISG policy statement, when broadly adopted, will standardize the rules for applying ISBNs to e-books and alleviate today's confusion.

Todd Carpenter, NISO's Managing Director, served as a member of the working group that developed the guidance. "With the onset of mass e-book distribution, we need to be clear what we are identifying and how products differ, so that it does not cause confusion in the marketplace," said Mr. Carpenter. "The lack of a clear code of practice for identifying e-book products is leading to multiple versions of these products being distributed with the same ISBN, despite a variety of meaningful differences in the products. I am pleased by the outcome of these recommendations and hope that publishers act quickly to adopt them."

In addition to its role as a standards developer, NISO plays an integral role in the creation, maintenance, and use of international identification standards. NISO is the current Secretariat for the ISO technical subcommittee on Identification and Description, part of ISO's Technical Committee 46 on Information and Documentation, that is responsible for the ISBN standard (ISO 2108:2005). NISO has been working closely with BISG and the International ISBN Agency on policies for the use and adoption of identifiers in the book supply chain.

You can download the policy for free from the Book Industry Study Group website: More information about the policy statement can be obtained by contacting Angela Bole at BISG.

About the National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
NISO fosters the development and maintenance of standards that facilitate the creation, persistent management, and effective interchange of information so that it can be trusted for use in research and learning. To fulfill this mission, NISO engages libraries, publishers, information aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across the entire lifecycle of an information standard. NISO is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). More information about NISO is available on its website: