March 25, 2010

BIC and BISG publish new guide to the International Standard Text Code (ISTC)

Book Industry Communication and the Book Industry Study Group in New York have today announced their joint publication of ‘The International Standard Text Code: A Work in Progress’ by Michael Holdsworth, the well-known industry expert and former Managing Director of  Cambridge University Press.

The ISTC has been described as the most important identifier since ISBN. It is a new ISO standard, published in 2009, which identifies an underlying textual ‘work’ independently of any 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, its path to adoption is not necessarily a straight one. Misunderstandings – even controversy – with regard to its implementation and its efficacy in solving some key problems in the book industry abound.

Holdsworth’s paper is designed to look behind the official documentation of the International ISTC Agency at the real opportunities available to publishers, retailers, rights and collection societies and bibliographic aggregators and systems providers to derive benefit from widespread early implementation of the standard.

Scott Lubeck, Executive Director of BISG, comments: ‘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. Michael’s paper sets out our understanding of ISTC and is an important tool in helping create that consensus.’

Peter Kilborn, Executive Director of BIC, added: ‘We have commissioned this paper to encourage our members to take a long hard look at the opportunities ISTC can offer the book industry. 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.’

Further information from Peter Kilborn (

Further information about ISTC can be found at or