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The IOBA Standard is the journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association and covers the book world, with a special focus on the online used, out-of-print, and collectible bookselling markets.


IOBA Q & A Column

Jean McKenna

We are starting a new feature in this issue — a book related, hopefully educational, Question and Answer column. We will publish three Questions and answers in each issue. Your questions are welcome, and can be directed to: Jean McKenna, Chairman ofThe Educational Committee at or to my attention: We will try to answer your questions to the best of our ability, and welcome your comments as well.

(Q) …What different size shipping boxes, bags, etc. do you use?

(A).Our ‘standard” shipping box is 12″X9″X3″, this is used for 90+ % of our shipments. It works well for normal hardbound & larger trade paperback books.

We also stock:

13″X10″X3-3/4″ boxes for larger format books 12″X9″X6″ boxes, for multiple book orders 14″X10″X10″ boxes, for larger multi book orders #5 Jiffy Padded Envelopes, for mass market paperbacks & smaller trade paperbacks.

We order the “standard” sized box in 250 box quantities, the “Jiffy” envelopes in 100 ct cases.

The other three box sizes we order in 25 box bundles. This keeps our storage requirements minimal. We are able to pickup orders at a local box manufacturer in Dallas, so there is no real need to keep more on hand.

(Q). I have a book (First Edition) with an ISBN number that includes an X as the last digit. I don’t see an explanation in your “Terminology” or “Definitions” space. What does it mean?

(A).Treat it as just another digit. The last digit of an ISBN is the check digit. ISBN check digits are based on a moduluseleven numbering system, with “x” used instead of “10”. If you would like more information about ISBN’s, and the significance of each digit in the number, you can review the ISBN User’s Manual online at:

(Q). Has anyone had experience with this title or can you recommend a reference…

I have what I think is a first edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, William Morrow & Company, Inc… 1974, the number line (1 2 3 4 5 78 77 76 75 74) is there. There are NO book club markings whatsoever, but somehow this just doesn’t look right to me.

The covers are paper covered, not cloth. It just doesn’t feel like a first edition to me. The size is 5.75 X 8.5 inches. 412 pages. DJ has reviews on the back. Is it a first?

(A). It’s a first — just a poorly constructed book which in part explains its price.

It has been a while since I’ve had a first of this, so I am relying on memory, but as I recall, one of the problems with this book (even in the trade edition) was that it was cheaply produced.

The 78, etc. in the number line isn’t too mysterious – basically, those are the years, so if the 2nd printing is in 74, the 1 will be removed but not the 74, if the 3rd printing is in 1975, then the 2 and the 74 will be removed etc.

Thanks to Rae Benedetto, Jonathan Grobe, and Patricia Bishop for their questions, and Jim Hart, Chris Volk, and Don Gallagher for supplying the answers.

Jean S. McKenna, Chairman Education Committee




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