New York, NY and London, England (March 26, 2010) — The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and Book Industry Communication (BIC) today co-published for public comment a discussion paper on the International Standard Text Code (ISTC) intended to foster understanding of the unique book identifier and provide clarification as to its potential benefits. The paper, entitled The International Standard Text Code: A Work in Progress, is the first in a new series of BISG discussion papers that will be published online for real-time reader review and comment.

"We’ve commissioned this paper to encourage our members to take a long hard look at the opportunities ISTC can offer the book industry," commented Peter Kilborn, Executive Director of BIC. "Their active support is essential if the standard is to achieve the critical mass it needs to deliver real benefit, especially as digital formats proliferate in the future."

The ISTC has been called one of most important identifiers since ISBN. The ISO standard, published in 2009, identifies an underlying textual "work" independently of a specific manifestation. It provides a much needed mechanism for identifying an original text that may be available in many seemingly different published versions with different ISBNs. By doing so, it has the potential to provide better, more targeted online search and discoverability.

However, like ISBN, ISTC’s path to adoption has not been a straight one. Misunderstandings–even controversy–with regard to its implementation and its efficacy in solving key book industry problems abound. The new BISG/BIC discussion paper is designed to look beyond the official documentation of the International ISTC Agency at the real opportunities available to publishers, retailers, rights and collection agencies, bibliographic aggregators and systems providers to derive benefit from early implementation of the standard.

"Creating a consensus in our industry as to what the ISTC standard was designed to do and the use cases that may drive its adoption is critical," commented Scott Lubeck, Executive Director of BISG. "This paper is an important tool in helping create that consensus and will level set our understanding of ISTC."

The International Standard Text Code: A Work in Progress was written by Michael Holdsworth, a well-known industry expert and former Managing Director of Cambridge University Press. Mr. Holdsworth will present highlights of the paper during an open BISG Identification Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EDT. For more information about the event and to register, visit

The full discussion paper is available online at

Media Contacts:
Scott Lubeck
Book Industry Study Group, Inc.

Peter Kilborn
Book Industry Communication

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About Book Industry Study Group, Inc.
The Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG) is the U.S. book industry’s leading trade association for policy, standards and research. The mission of BISG is to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry supply chain for both physical and digital products. Membership consists of publishers, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, librarians, and others engaged in the business of print and electronic media. For over 30 years, BISG has provided a forum for all industry professionals to come together and efficiently address issues and concerns to advance the book community.

Learn more about BISG at

About Book Industry Communication
Book Industry Communication (BIC) is an independent organization set up and sponsored by the Publishers Association, Booksellers Association, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and the British Library to promote supply chain efficiency in all sectors of the book world through e-commerce and the application of standard processes and procedures. Learn more about BIC at

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