Re: Persistent Documents and Locations

Patrik Faltstrom (
Mon, 28 Aug 1995 17:51:19 -0700

Message-Id: <v02130507ac681251d1d3@[]>
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 1995 17:51:19 -0700
To: Thacker Jane <JAT@ABS.NLC-BNC.CA>, lazear <>,
From: (Patrik Faltstrom)
Subject: Re: Persistent Documents and Locations
Cc: uri <>

At 15.27 95-08-28, Thacker Jane wrote:
>In his message dated August 26, 1995,  Patrik wrote:
>>I started that a ISBN is persistent, unique and all of that,
>>but that is as false as the statement that the moon is made
>>of cheese.
>>The fact is this:
>... (some text deleted) ...
>>Sometimes, it's better for a publisher to stay within his series
>>of ISBNs. He do that by reusing ISBN numbers!
>>(1) The lifetime of a ISBN is sometimes as short as _one_ single
>>    print of a book.
>>(2) The uniqueness of a ISBN is by far not true.
>>(3) There is nothing like a "referral" from an old number
>>    to a new one, you have to call the publisher himself.
>As Secretary of the ISO committee that's responsible for the ISBN standard,
>I'd like to correct the above statement about ISBN practice.  A publisher
>should NEVER reuse an ISBN number.

This is exactly my point! I have also read all texts about how ISBNs work,
and they say that ISBN's should not be reused.

This is not the fact for every publisher though.

The point is that we must from the beginning make people understand
the importance of selection of URNs so we don't get the same
problem as you have in the ISBN space, where ISBNs die, is
reused etc.

We must see that a URN is _not_ reused, and that when it dies
(the document it refers to disapears for example) the URN
must still exist and point to some information about what has

If a version of a document changes, and because of that it
gets a new URN, you must be able to find the new version
via the old URN.

The way ISBNs work, they only exist as long as the original book
is in print (part from in the libraries), and just because ISBNs
change so often, even between prints, ISBNs is not so very
good when searching for books. The title is easier, or rather
publisher (the start of the ISBN) and the title/author pair.