ISBN No.'s NOT for tarot decks


Hello All,

I just called a ISBN agency to find out more about obtaining a number for a deck which I will publish some time next year. However I was told that ISBN numbers are "only" for book and publishers who use them for decks or even tarot deck + book are misusing the ISBN.

So why have one for a deck when it's not reconized as a deck?

Sorry to ask such a silly question

I know US games and all the other publishers use them for cards and games

Can anyone shead any light??


We also went through this. It is debatable and it seems to vary from country to country. We were finally told that because our deck is bound in a cloth casing (a little like a hardback book) and also has a longish LWB, that it does qualify. However, neither of these requirements apply to Lo Scarabeo's publications and yet they have ISBNs. As a friend of mine always says "Go figure".

Honestly, we gave up trying to get to the bottom of this.


Tell me about it G!

Yes just as I thought I will just go for the LWB.

I also spoke to the acency the woman was sooooooooo rude and was talking to me as if I was criminal, going on about the misuse of ISBN's. sadly that was the only agent that give them out from the UK

ARRRhhhhh never mind, it will soon pass I keep telling myself

I also found this site which may help others

And yes your right Scarabeo + Llewllyn also do the same.

Where the is a will there is a way! :)

Lady Eclipse

Hi Destiny,

I was told pretty much the same thing when I inquired about my Lady Eclipse Tarot. No ISBN was needed because it was a tarot deck. I highly suspect U. S. Games and the others use some type of loophole to be able to put it on their decks and get away with it.

Joy to you,


Trouble is, store's WON'T ORDER IT if it doesn't have an ISBN number because their warehouses can't stock it. Since it's paper, and sort of a 'book' I think it gets away with it in the USA here. Without that number on it, though, companies/shops/stores who only order via catalog through warehouses won't be able to order it because it won't be able to get on the inventory list.

Maybe it'd help to tell this lady that the ISBN is for international distribution & that stores in the USA require it for their modern day inventory supply & order. Without it you can't sell to the major booksellers.


"Without it you can't sell to the major booksellers."


Yep, HG is quite right. I went through the same set of hoops myself with the Ator Tarot. Also, distributors require them, since ISBN #'s are used in warehouse inventories.

Go figure. These niggling details seem to do their best to detract from the higher purpose of printing a book, don't they? Somehow this Bowker organization has a virtual monopoly on selling the numbers (numbers!) upon which book distribution is founded, and without which we cannot do business.


Hope this helps

This is what I was told, but some publisher have less than 48 pages.

You can also use other barcode systems mentioned in the othe links for non books.

The price of the bar code is not included within the ISBN fee.
once you have received your numbers from us you will give them to your
printer and they should have the facility to convert the ISBN into a

ISBNs are assigned to:
monographic (i.e. non-serial/periodical), text-based works that are
available to the general public. It is not usual to assign ISBNs to
publications with an extent of less than 48 pages.

ISSNs are assigned to titles that are intended to be published more
once a year or are deemed to be part of a series with no defined end.

Some publications do show both - e.g. yearbooks

ISBNs contain a publisher identifier (this is not true of ISSNs) and to
register as a user of ISBNs the publisher would need to complete an
application form, provide page samples (title page and reverse of the
page) as well as remit payment to us. The fees are as follows:

The fee is to register you as a user of ISBNs (there is not a fee per
allocated to you). The above fee will entitle you to a maximum of 10
If you require a larger prefix, you will need to pay supplementary

ISBNs should be allocated to publications by the publisher in sequence.
a series is available (as a kind of set) as well as each work
then 2 ISBNs should be assigned to each work (one ISBN for the specific
work and one for the set as a whole).