The ISTC began development in the early 2000s as a way of collocating editions of textual works. It’s not technically a “Work ID” for books, but was misperceived that way – in actuality, it’s an identifier of text strings. So (broadly speaking) the hardcover, paperback and ebook edition of a book would all receive the same ISTC, but the French translation would not, because the text strings are different.
The ISTC is not necessarily assigned by a publisher, or a library, or a bookseller. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. There is no “ownership” of the ISTC like there is with other identifiers.Anybody who wants to register a textual work – whether it’s an author, an agent, a publisher, or whoever - must submit a request to an ISTC registration agency with the necessary metadata needed to distinguish that work from others. The registration agency determines whether or not that request qualifies for a new or an existing ISTC.
More information about ISTC can be found here.
Mike makes a good point - the dust raised up by the drastic disruption brought on by digitization is settling. Pain points seem to have minimized. These days, the big news is in consolidation, iterative experimentation, and (dare I say it) infrastructure improvements. The acquisitions I mentioned are not earth-shattering but incremental - the Big Scary Days are safely in the rear-view mirror for the time being.
For those of us who thrive on disturbance, this can be a difficult time - casting about for The Next Big Thing (especially in summer, when the buzz of the tree locusts lulls us into either napping or impatience) is quite frustrating when all seems well in hand. Forcing disruption where none is naturally occurring is, of course, not terribly honest. One can always argue that publishing is complacent, that the book trade is blinkered, that if traditional publishers don't focus on something other than the next bestseller then they'll be blindsided by Pokemon Go or something like it.
And that's true.
But publishing continues. For all the disruption caused by ebooks, print sales are still strong. Audiobook sales continue a spectacular hockey stick growth. Pikachu can exist side-by-side with adult coloring books and the Knopf frontlist.
So perhaps now is a time for contemplation. For digging ditches, and focusing on fortification. For refining processes and smoothing efficiencies. It's a luxury to be able to do so. I used to have a trainer who would hold me back from pushing myself during certain workouts. "It's okay if it's easy," he would say. "Enjoy it. Not everything has to be hard."
The ISAN was developed in the year 2000 and published by ISO in 2002. It identifies an audiovisual work – so it applies to films, TV shows, video games, etc. ISANs are used by film and television studios, services such as iTunes and HBO, and technology companies like Microsoft.
The first twelve numbers of the ISAN form the “root” of the identifier. The root is assigned to the core work. The next set of numbers applies to the episode or part (if there is one – if not, the next four numbers are zeroes). The next character is a check character. The next eight numbers identify the version of the work. The last number is also a checksum.