The ISBN system is fundamental to everything publishers do, but it is a piece of metadata that is often forgotten or ignored. IPA Secretary General, José Borghino, attended the meeting of the International ISBN Agency in Rabat, Morocco on 11-13 September.
As an ex officio member, Borghino participated in the meeting along with members from across the globe, including Fernanda Garcia from IPA member CBL in São Paulo, which administers the Brazilian ISBN agency. The AGM, which took place at the Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc, saw 47 delegates from 30 national and regional ISBN agencies and 4 other organisations present case studies from such diverse countries as Jordan, Malawi, Eswatini, The Gambia, Slovenia and Switzerland.
A very important discussion, which could have a big impact on the industry, centred on Artificial Intelligence as some ISBN Agencies are starting to receive requests for ISBNs for AI-generated publications. Sometimes, these publications are declared as AI by the publisher but at other times it is not so obvious. Clearly, AI can have some important benefits such as in making books available in languages that have lower numbers of speakers. On the other hand, better definitions will be needed going forward and it will be essential to work cooperatively with key stakeholders and WIPO to establish robust policies.