Monday, April 1, 2013

Introducing the Invalid ISBN System

We're pleased to help introduce a revolutionary new identifier system for ebooks, based on a new numeric identifier, the Invalid ISBN (or InvIS BN, for short). InvIS BN works together with the legacy ISBN system (ISBN Classic) to extend identity to ebooks without all the hassle and expense of the real thing.

InvIS BN takes advantage of two of the ISBN system's fatal flaws
  1. ISBN Classic wastes nine out of ten perfectly good numbers.
  2. ISBN Classic ignores the error-producing power of real users.
Humans have been shown to have a 1% error rate in transcribing digits. As a result, they have a 9.6% error in transcribing 10-digit ISBNs; the shift to 13 digit ISBN has increased this rate to 12.3%. As a result, many ISBNs in circulation are incorrect. While the so-called "check digit" helps to expose these errors, there is no way to correct an error once made.

The InvIS BN system, by contrast, collects these human errors in a registry, allowing them to be fixed. But most potential ISBNs are still unused, despite a growing need to identify the proliferating digital versions of books. For example, the recent acquisition of Goodreads by Amazon has caused the death of millions of ISBNs, all of which will have to be replaced somehow.

Toxic leftovers from ISBN mining.
Similarly, the Economist has noted that ebooks will cause the demise of ISBN, resulting in renewed demand for viable identifiers. Invis BN will help meet this demand.

InvIS BNs are salvaged from the 77.7% of numbers which are unused by valid or mistaken Classic ISBNs. They will be available, for free, from the website, now under construction.

The InvIS BN system is expected to have huge environmental benefits. The current ISBN system leaves huge piles of toxic numerical "tailings" in the regions where ISBNs are mined. These tailings are now being recycled into useful identifiers.

Arual Noswad, Mayor of Invalid, Texas, the town at the center of the American ISBN mining region and namesake of the new system, welcomes the new developments. "If you don't use this, I will break you" she threatened an innocent reporter.

Invalid, Texas was incorporated in 1948 due to a data entry error. By a quirk of our modern technology it cannot be found using modern GPS systems, which has resulted in a boom for data-security related business.


  1. In related news, due to the world-wide punctuation shortage, the Library of Congress has promulgated a Rule Interpretation deprecating the use of ISBD punctuation in MARC21 records.

    Operators of library catalogs are encourage to apply to World Punctuation Authority for an increased dynamic punctuation display license.

  2. That web side 'under construction' is truly ugly although not at all "intimidating".

  3. gmc, the cataloguing world is in crisis; I assume you've read the big news about the demise of the decimal point in Dewey.

    PND, the intimidation is very subtle.