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Policies & Practices > Using ASINs for books not exclusive to Amazon

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message 1: by Cait (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments So: for Kindle editions which are available only through Amazon, we use the ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) to catalog it and for non-Kindle editions which have an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) we use the ISBN to catalog it.

What should we do for editions which have no ISBN but which are listed for sale on Amazon and therefore have an ASIN assigned by Amazon? Should we use the ASIN to catalog the edition? I think no, because it gives Amazon too much precedence in the record of a book which exists outside of Amazon as well; rivka says yes (I presume because some catalog number is better than none?); we thought we should bring it to the wider Librarian group and get some policy decision from y'all. What do you think?


Ralph Gallagher | 212 comments I'd say yes just so that we have some catalog number for it. It's hard to find a specific edition without an ISBN or ASIN, we neeed some kind of catlog number to find these specific editions, IMO.


message 3: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 25108 comments If the search engine finds ASINs then I'd vote yes. Just so we can find them more easily. I never have a problem when using the numbers to find books.

And lets face it, a lot of non-librarians look at Amazon as the be-all place to go to, if they can't find the info here.


message 4: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44010 comments Mod
Cait wrote: "rivka says yes (I presume because some catalog number is better than none?)"

To the degree that I thought about it (and honestly, until you brought it up I had not given much thought to it), that was indeed my thinking.


message 5: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44010 comments Mod
Cait wrote: "I think no, because it gives Amazon too much precedence in the record of a book which exists outside of Amazon as well"

This is a good point, though.


message 6: by mlady_rebecca (new)

mlady_rebecca | 593 comments Cait wrote: "What should we do for editions which have no ISBN but which are listed for sale on Amazon and therefore have an ASIN assigned by Amazon? "

Does this occur frequently?

I'm inclined to favor having an ASIN over having no identification number. Although, I haven't noticed any books that fall into this category yet.


message 7: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (last edited May 08, 2010 11:24PM) (new)

rivka | 44010 comments Mod
It happens with many pre-ISBN books, many small press books, etc.


message 8: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44010 comments Mod
They don't currently import from Amazon, so that wouldn't be an issue. And I'd suggest making it "may be added" for ASINs, and just stop removing them from the ones that have them, rather than requiring anyone to add them.

It's certainly better than some of the odd identifiers some users have put in the ISBN slot for pre-ISBN books.


This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For | 949 comments I'd actually be concerned that ASIN numbers for books without ISBN's may be ephemeral. For example, if an Amazon affiliate sells some old book through Amazon does it get an ASIN and what happens when that book is later removed from the DB? Can the ASIN be reassigned? This is quite different than with ISBNs (Amazon affiliates sometimes produce phantom ISBNs as well, but at least the ISBN, if correct, is more-or-less constant).


message 10: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44010 comments Mod
That's an interesting question. I have seen ASINs that no longer work, but I have yet to see one that has been reassigned.


message 11: by Carin (new)

Carin | 27 comments I work with a lot of non-bookstores, and they call this field "vendor order number" or some variant. This includes ISBNs, and any number that a vendor would use to identify and distinguish their products, standard and non-standard. ASINs would certainly fall under this category, and the nice thing about using a more generic term like this is the deemphasis of Amazon.


message 12: by Jake (new)

Jake Gest (jakegest) | 5 comments Has anyone considered using an OLCL number or library of congress number instead of ASIN in these cases? I know worldcat uses OLCL... and library of congress is fairly well known.


message 13: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 44010 comments Mod
It has been discussed, but for various reasons has not been instituted (and I think is unlikely to be).


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