About SAN and Its Functions

The Standard Address Number (SAN) is a unique seven-digit identifier used to signify a specific address of an organization in (or served by) the publishing industry. This system, initiated and maintained by R.R. Bowker, has become the identification code for electronic communication within the industry. It is the method used by PUBNET, X*NET and systems and is required in all electronic data interchange communications using the Book Industry Systems Advisory Committee (BISAC) EDI formats. The SAN is used for identification of customers for electronic ordering transmission, voice recognition ordering systems, teleordering, for billing or shipping account numbers, etc. The use of the SAN significantly reduces the problems faced by other non-standard numbering systems such as billing errors, books shipped to the wrong points, errors in payments and returns. Organizations who buy SANs include book and journal publishers, wholesalers and distributors, book retailers and college bookstores, libraries, schools, universities, paper and cloth manufacturers, printers and binders, as well as anyone else involved in the manufacturing of books and journals.

International Locations:

Thorpe-Bowker assigns SANs to Australian and New Zealand locations. Australian SANs can be obtained via For New Zealand SANs please contact the SAN agency for an application form at (61) 03 8517 8349 or

The U.S. SAN Agency assigns SANs to the United States and Canadian locations and all other locations outside of the US (except Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.).

Functions of the SAN Agency

The SAN agency performs a number of important functions, including:

  • management and allocation of SAN assignments to organizations associated with the publishing industry
  • advising organizations on the correct and proper usage of the SAN
  • informing organizations within the publishing industry of their SAN assignments and identifying ranges
  • maintenance of an up-to-date and comprehensive listing of all SAN assignments for inclusion in such Bowker directories as Books in Print, Publishers, Distributors and Wholesalers of the United States and our web-based product