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International Standard Number (ISN) agency

The ISN Agency supplies international standard numbers (ISN) and codes for published documents in various physical formats – . ISBN, ISSN and ISMN Identifiers – in order to identify any South African published document worldwide. Publishers may obtain ISNs for books or serials from the ISN Agency.

For more information contact:

Contact details:
The National Library of South Africa
ISN Agency
Att: Ms. Magret Kibido
P.O. Box 397
Pretoria 0001

Tel. +27 (0)12) 401 9718
Fax: +27 (0)12) 325 5984
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a clear identification number for books, and applies to any monographic publication in printed, non-printed and mixed media formats. Ephemeral material is excluded, as well as unchanged impressions or unchanged reprints of the same title in the same format by the same publisher. The ISBN system is administered on an international, national and publisher level. It is a structured number, consisting of four meaningful groups of numbers, and is printed in easily legible type on the item itself. It is assigned to every title, or edition of a title, by each publisher. Publishers participating in the ISBN system contribute to practical ISBN uses in the publishing sector, distribution centres, bookshops and libraries. An international standard, ISO 2108:2005: Information and documentation - International Standard Book Numbering, specifies the ISBN. 2007.

Practical guidance in the application of the ISBN is provided in the ISBN Users’ Manual. Should you quickly want to know if you can reassign an ISBN, or if a reprint needs a new ISBN, or what ISBN prefix to use when you are taking over another firm, then consult the FAQ www.isbn-international.org/faqs For any South African publisher, help with your ISBN is at hand. The national ISN Agency, situated at the National Library of South Africa liaises with South African publishers (Centre for the Book, PASA) and the International ISBN Agency in the national administration of the ISBN system in South Africa.Are you a South African publisher who wishes to identify and list your publications worldwide in directories and on the Internet? Then contact the ISN Agency (contact details above) to apply for a single, or block , ISBN. This service is rendered free of charge by the ISN Agency to the publishers and self author publishers of South Africa. Your publisher details will further be included in either of these publications : Directory of South African Publishers (DSAP) - reviewed regularly,  South African Independent Publishers' Directory and African Publishers' Association Directory. The ISN Agency supports open communication between itself and South African publishers, and with the International ISBN Agency.NLSA is working closely with Authors and Publishers to Encourage , Promote and Support a viable and sustainable Publishing in South Africa.Do you have questions for us to answer, but also want to share your ideas and knowledge about ISBN with us? Please contact us! The ISN Agency will keep in touch and inform you of newsworthy developments.

The International Standard Music Number (ISMN) is a unique number for the identification for all notated music publications from all over the world, whether available for sale, hire or gratis--whether a part, a score, or an element in a multi-media kit. This is the International Standard Serial Numbering system. Please contact the ISN Agency when you need an ISSN for your South African serial publication.

Other identifiers

Currently, the National Library does not administer these identifiers. For more information on these identifiers, please go to the applicable websites.

  • ISRC (International Standard Recording Code)
  • ISWC (International Standard Work Code)
  • ISRN (International Standard Report Number)
  • DOI (Digital Object Identifier)


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