Barcode Guide in Magazines: ISBN, ISSN or No Code?
What is the ISSN code? And the ISBN code? Do you need an ISSN code, an ISBN code or are they not necessary to create an independent magazine? Even if the print run is very small and I don't know if I will do other publications, am I obliged to have one of these codes?
These and other questions are very frequent among those who have to approach the creation of a new magazine or those who have already published it and have to deal with publishers, retailers and cash systems. With this article we try to shed some light on you what are the ISBN and ISSN codes, what they are for, when to use them and how to buy one for your editorial project.
WHAT ARE ISSN AND ISBN NUMERICAL CODES IN PUBLISHING
The numerical codes ISSN and ISBN in publishing are used to uniquely and precisely trace a magazine or any editorial product. Basically they allow, behind a numerical sequence, to identify a specific publication. ISSN and ISBN are nothing more than huge international databases that contain the salient data of each publication (title, author, publisher, size, pages, country of publication, type of content) and which make it recognizable and identifiable all over the world. . The issuance and management of these codes is usually managed by public bodies or with state control.
The ISSN and ISBN codes are numerical sequences of independent databases, which communicate with the EAN system, which allows to automatically generate a unique associated "bar code". It will then be through this barcode or EAN 13 that shops and libraries will be able to easily enter the product in their checkout systems and read it with a quick scan.
Generally the ISSN or ISBN code and the relative EAN (the latter may not always be present) are inserted on the cover or on the back in most of the publications, while those who are more attentive to aesthetics insert them inside, especially in the imprint. Their positioning in the product is at the discretion of the publisher.
In summary: ISSN and ISBN are numeric codes of editorial products that are associated with an EAN. The EAN is composed from the classic "barcode" and from a sequence of 13 digits.
This, for example, is the ISBN of our Urbarïum Semen:
This instead is the example of ISSN in a magazine, which has chosen not to apply the EAN with a barcode as well.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO ASSOCIATE A CODE WITH AN EDITORIAL PROJECT?
Because it serves to make an editorial product recognizable and easily catalogable all over the world. Basically if your project has one of these codes it can be recognized immediately in practically any other part of the globe (with the exception of a few countries that do not adhere to the relevant international agreements). It is a kind of product identity card.
Often these codes are required by editorial regulations, by distributors or by publishers to give the product maximum traceability and recognition along the entire sales chain.
Furthermore, in the sales of physical stores and other commercial establishments, without ISBN or ISSN and relative EAN, it will be more complex for the merchant to make the product recognizable from its checkouts having to catalog it specifically. The same is true for other entities such as libraries.
As for online sales, the presence of an ISSN or ISBN code helps search engines to verify the authority of a product. Google Shopping, TikTok Business or Facebook Shop, for example, if an editorial product is not equipped with one of these codes, they will tend to penalize it in the search results or even not allow its publication.
Finally, the presence of an ISSN or ISBN code can help to give authoritativeness to a content: although a simple request and payment of the amount is enough for the issuance of the code, the fact that it contains this code can give the reader the idea of the seriousness and professionalism behind the project.
L'ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) - EDITORIA PERIODICA
The ISSN is the code that identifies all periodical publishing products, defined by the legislation ISO 3297. It is an eight-digit code, divided into two groups of four separated by a dash. It should be used for all periodical products (with any frequency), from daily to semi-annual to annuals. This is the code you need to apply for if you are planning to start your own independent court-registered magazine.
In Italy it is the National Research Council (CNR) to manage this database and to issue new codes. The intergovernmental organization that manages the ISSN codes is theISSN International Centre.
It is possible to request an ISSN code both for products with active previous editions and for publications about to be released to the public with the first issue. The cost is € 30.50 and can be requested from the CNR through this link. There are other online services where you can request it, generally at a higher cost.
THE ISBN - NON PERIODIC PUBLISHING
The ISBN is a code consisting of 13 digits that instead identifies a book or any other publication with a single edition, regulated by the UNI regulation ISO 2108: 2007. You won't need it if you have to make a magazine. The ISBN is in fact used by those who have in mind the publication of a book or stand-alone publishing products that do not have the character of periodicity. In the world of indiemags, the ISBN is often used in place of the ISNN when dealing with publications not registered in court. In this case, a new ISBN code must be purchased for each issue.
In Italy the ISBN is issued by the Italian ISBN Agency (owned by the Italian Publishers Association), with modular costs depending on the needs and in general starting from € 80.00 + VAT. You can purchase your ISBN via this link.
Also for the ISBN it is possible to find other online services that sell it, generally at higher costs.
ARE ISBN AND ISSN MANDATORY?
No. If you want to print a magazine or book with your funds, no one forces you, at the time of printing, to have a barcode (source: CNR).
However, it is very important to keep in mind that having an ISSN or an ISBN is a necessary condition to be able to apply 4% VAT to a particular editorial product in Italy. In particular the circular n. 20 / E of 18 May 2016 and the subsequent response to an appeal to the Revenue Agency n.69 of 2019 clarify that without these codes the product will be sold under the ordinary VAT regime. Therefore your publication without these codes may be subject to a VAT of 22% and not to the subsidized 4% envisaged for editorial products.
THE ADVICE OF FRAB'S
If you believe in your editorial project and you are putting your expertise, commitment and professionalism into it, We always recommend that you purchase an ISSN code with which to publish (or ISBN in the case of non-periodic or non-court-registered publications).
With the ISSN (or ISBN) you know that wherever your publication goes and in the hands of whoever it ends up, it will be recognizable clearly and distinctly. Publishers and the entire supply chain will also be able to access the subsidized VAT at 4% in Italy.
Last but not least, the presence of a barcode gives it authority not only from the commercial world, but also towards the academic world.
Good publication and, if you need more information, you can write to email@example.com