Advertising and promotional materials
No, publications subject to frequent update (online databases, blogs) are not eligible for ISBNs.
Board games
Broadsides are eligible for ISBNs if the content is not serial in nature. A broadside, also called a broadsheet, is a large sheet of paper, newspaper-size, which is printed, almost poster-like, on one side.
Brochures and pamphlets
No, unless required by the retailer
Cell phone novels
Yes, the content of such a publication could be identified by ISBN in this format.
Compact discs (CDs)
CDs are only eligible for ISBNs if they are spoken word or instructional. Music or performance CDs are never assigned ISBNs. Meditation CDs that combine music and spoken word are not eligible for ISBNs. If the CD is eligible for an ISBN, the ISBN is placed near the copyright line on the packaging. The UPC (now called the GS1) bar code is the appropriate product identification standard for a music CD.
Chapters, paragraphs, charts, etc.
Chapters, paragraphs, charts and other sections of published text are eligible for their own ISBNs if a publisher is selling them separately.
Coffee mugs and other utensils
Coloring books
Comic books
Comic books, since they are serials, do not get ISBNs. However, graphic novels are eligible for ISBNs.
Digital customized publications
No, unless a publisher's internal assignment is necessary for back office systems, such as finance or inventory control.
DVDs may not get an ISBN if they are entertainment or performance videos. If the DVD is instructional or educational, then the DVD is eligible for an ISBN. However, retailers vary in their requirements regarding the type of product identification. Publishers should check with their retailers for requirements. If the DVD is eligible for an ISBN, the ISBN is placed near the copyright line on the packaging.
Electronic advertising / promotional materials
Electronic newsletters / e-zines
No (see Serials)
Electronic schedulers
No, electronic devices are not assigned ISBNs, but a program on the device could be assigned an ISBN, if it were instructional or educational in nature.
Electronic/video games
Flash cards
Only if instructional in nature. Playing cards and tarot cards are not eligible for ISBNs.
Food and medicine
Graphic novels
Yes (see Comic books)
Greeting cards
Greeting cards are not assigned ISBNs unless required by the retailer. If assigned, they are assigned by price point rather than design. For example, if several different designs are all sold for the same price, only one ISBN is used.
Historical documents
Yes. Historical documents archived in a library or museum are part of the bibliographic record of interest to researchers. They meet the criteria for discoverability and reporting that is part of the ISBN system.
Journals and diaries
Journals and diaries can be assigned ISBNs when required by retailers.
Loose-leaf volumes
Yes, such reference works are routinely tracked by revenue strands (individual vs. library subscription reporting) by publishers.
No (see Serials)
Music/performance CDs
No (see Compact discs)
Online databases
No, publications subject to frequent update (online databases, blogs, etc.) are not eligible for ISBNs.
Pamphlets and brochures
No (see Serials)
Personal documents, if digitized
Pictures and photographs
No. ISBNs are never assigned to images; they are used for text.
Playing cards and tarot cards
Yes, this format of audio book could be assigned an ISBN.
Posters and art prints
No. ISBNs are never assigned to images; they are used for text.
Puzzle books
Yes, puzzle books are eligible for ISBNs, including but not limited to crossword puzzles and Sudoku books.
Search engines
Serials (magazines, periodicals, etc.)
Magazines, periodicals and serials of any type do not get ISBNs. They are assigned ISSNs, available from the Library of Congress, or BIPAD numbers, available at However, if a single issue of a periodical is being sold as a book, then that issue alone may be assigned an ISBN.
Sheet music
No, sheet music does not get ISBNs. The ISMN is the appropriate standard for sheet music, which doesn't have any binding. ISBNs are assigned to books of printed music.
Shirts and other apparel
Only if it is educational or instructional
Stationery items
Toys, including stuffed animals
USB drives/sticks
Devices themselves are not assigned ISBNs, but the text content sold in this particular format may be identified by an ISBN.
Web-based books
Websites are not assigned ISBNs. However, if the publisher needs to identify tracking, trading and discovery between two product types, one of which is an accessible web-based product, then the ISBN can be assigned to the product in its web-based version.
Web-based games
No. Electronic games, whether web-based or otherwise, are not eligible for ISBNs.

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