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Answers (FAQ) > Miscellaneous > What's an EAN, ISBN, or barcode?

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What’s an EAN, ISBN, or barcode?


The barcodes generally used for a calendar and book are called an EAN code. This is a specific type of code that is related to book products. The code simple gives the retailer a unique number — and a suggested price — that they can put into their inventory system to track that product (i.e., your calendar). The code comes from an ISBN number, which is simply a long, unique number that is issued by a central agency. The first part of this number identifies the “publisher”, the second part of this number identifies the product itself. 

We purchase blocks of these numbers that no one else can use. Then, when a client orders one, we take it out of “circulation” and assign it to their calendar. Usually a few times in the year we also go to the central agency’s website and register these ISBN numbers so that they show The Calendar Factory (or, if a book, The 28 Page Agency) as the Publisher, and the calendar as the product. My understanding is that generally the retailers don’t link to this information — they just want a unique code that they can put in their system.

From that ISBN we get an EAN barcode made from that number, which includes also the pricing information — it’s basically turning the ISBN number into a barcode with the price encoded. These numbers can only be used once, and someone can be fined up to $10,000 if they are used on more than one product — so obviously we’re careful with tracking them.

There are other types of barcodes used in retail such as UPC, but EAN codes are used for books, and this covers calendars. Some retailers specify the type of barcode they want, but in the last 5 years I don’t think we’ve had anyone ask us for anything other than an EAN or — rarely — a UPC code.

We generally include an ISBN and an EAN barcode for free in our larger projects, or an EAN can be purchased for lower quantities.

Last updated on October 12, 2010 by The 28 Page Agency