« Autodesk Founder Dan Drake Interviewed on PBS NerdTV | Main | Reading List: Le Ciel lui tombe sur la tĂȘte »

Monday, October 24, 2005

ISBN-13 Support in Book Recommendation Tools

On January 1, 2007, the venerable 10-digit ISBN identifiers for books will be replaced by 13-digit "ISBN-13" codes which fit within the EAN-13 scheme. There is a simple procedure for converting existing 10-digit ISBNs to the new scheme, but any program which accepts ISBNs will have to be modified to accept new, fully general, 13-digit ISBNs as of 2007.

I've upgraded the book recommendation form on this site to accept 13-digit ISBNs as well as the traditional 10 digit variety. The computation of the check digit for the 13-digit ISBN is completely different than the algorithm used for its 10-digit predecessor; it's arguably less robust in the face of human data entry errors, but at least it dispenses with the "X" character--ISBN-13s are all numeric.

If you've built ISBN processing tools based upon these scripts, you may wish to download the latest version and update your code to handle ISBN-13s. Note that Amazon.com is currently completely clueless about ISBN-13s--if you submit a 13 digit ISBN, even one which simply encapsulates a known 10-digit ISBN with the 978- prefix, it will come up unknown.

Posted at October 24, 2005 00:50