In some English speaking countries, many books carry a barcode for an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) (10 or 13 characters) followed by a barcode for the price (five characters). The second code is in EAN-5 format (European Article Number), with its first digit showing the currency and its last four digits indicating the price, denominated in that currency.

For example, 3 is for the Australian pound. So 31299 means that a book is offered for A$12.99. The five-digit code does not usually allow the identification of a unique title. All it does is state the price. It has nothing to do with the ISBN.

Why are both 0 and 1 available as the first digit when the price is in British pounds? For example both 01599 and 11599 mean that a book's price is £15.99. When self-publishing a book offered at this price, is it preferable to use one of these rather than the other? Or does it depend on circumstances or perhaps not matter at all?

Some references for EAN-5: barcode reference; EAN-5.

  • Could you explain why you want to know this? Do you want to put an EAN-5 code on your self-published book?
    – Ben
    Jan 12 at 19:23
  • @Ben - Yes, and not a null one (90000) but one indicating the price in British pounds, and I'm asking whether the advantages and disadvantages vary at all between indicating pounds with a 0 or a 1. It may sound like a silly question, but there are people who know the answer, and for some reason this is the only currency for which there are two options. A denomination in United States dollars for example is always shown with a 5.
    – tell
    Jan 12 at 19:34
  • 1
    Not really a question about writing! Jan 13 at 10:33
  • @KateBunting For some reason the previous comments to this question have been deleted. In them, OP stated they wanted to self-publish a book and were wondering which number to use.
    – Ben
    Jan 13 at 17:52

1 Answer 1


I don't know why the pound sterling was assigned two digits (0 and 1) when the Bookland EAN was configured in the 1980s, but when the Book Industry Study Group assessed the current usage in the early 2000s they found that

  • some publishers in the UK used the range of 00000 to 09999
  • there was no instance of using a leading 1 in the UK
  • there were no instances of using a leading 2, 3 or 4 to encode price information in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or India

Because of those findings, the Machine Readable Coding Committee recommended that

  • the range of 00000 to 09999 should continue to be reserved for the UK pound sterling
  • the US dollar therefore couldn't use a leading 0 and should continue to use 50000 to 59999 for the price range less than $100
  • the range of 10000 to 49999 could be used for US dollars between $100.00 and $499.99

The Book Industry Study Group approved those recommendations and has revised the five-digit price add-on to the Bookland EAN for the US. The current usage in the US is as follows:

Code Range Pricing Interpretation
50001 - 59998 US$ 0.01 - US$ 99.98
59999 Price is not encoded and is understood to exceed US$ 99.98.
(Note: A price of US$ 99.99 cannot be encoded.)
10000 - 19999 US$ 100.00 - US$ 199.99
20000 - 29999 US$ 200.00 - US$ 299.99
30000 - 39999 US$ 300.00 - US$ 399.99
40000 - 49999 US$ 400.00 - US$ 499.99

Althout the Book Industry Study Group is a US trade organization, the US usage implies that in the UK and for a price in pound sterling

the leading digit should be a 0.

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