Audiobooks: ISBN as catalogue number

I’ve been doing some audiobook editing after a bit of a hiatus, and it looks like the ISBN is often added as its own catalogue number (it often differs slightly from the barcode). I think this makes sense, as it makes it searchable. And if ISBN is ever added as its own field (ticket) it can be moved over with a script/bot.

It’s already being done by a lot of editors, but I would like to make sure everyone’s pulling in the same direction. Would anyone have an issue with adding this to the Audiobook guidelines? @reosarevok

Catalogue Number
If you know the ISBN number, add it as its own catalogue number, in the format:

  • ISBN X–XXXX-XXXX–X (replace numbers and dashes as printed)

FWIW, there’s a ticket for supporting ISBNs (STYLE-756) which is been blocked for ages because we still haven’t gotten an implementation for entity attributes for releases :frowning:

I’d honestly just add them to the annotation like “ISBN: Whatever” until then, personally.


As I answered in those discussions, this is a common thing that happens on many audiobooks. It may not be a traditional musical catalogue number, but by adding it to the catalogue number field it is easy to search and appears on the Release Group page as part of the cat no list making it easy to reference.


I linked to that ticket in my post as well :stuck_out_tongue:
I think we all know that waiting for future developments/tickets (from 2014) are a bad reason to not improve things now haha.

This all came up because I took an ISBN out of a catalogue field, but apparently that’s not what a lot of audiobook editors have been doing. Instinctually I would have also used the annotation.

But I’ve kind of come round to it, because ISBN’s are really helpful when added consistently (see the ISIS Audiobooks label, where it’s already useful, even if entries styles are mixed), and because I thought it could be easier to automate a shift if we ever did get that STYLE-756 ticket sorted?

The main thing I want to avoid is some people putting them into the catalogue field, and some into the annotation, and worst: editing them back and forth. So a style direction would be nice


The thing with attributes is that the SQL has been there forever, it just needs to be implemented :frowning: So it’s less pie in the sky than other similarly old ideas… but we never seem to finally find time to get it done.


I’m still of the opinion that audiobooks belong in BookBrainz (which allows for entry of ISBNs) rather than MusicBrainz. The ISBN organization has pretty strict distinctions about what’s eligible to get an ISBN and what isn’t. I think MetaBrainz should follow the same distinctions.

They are in a limbo between the worlds. Don’t really fit in either, but should be in both. Picard would need a bookbrainz addon. And how would I allocate a MBID to the audiobook. The per recording details we add to an Audiobook\AudioDrama don’t really fit too well to BookBrainz. But that really is another thread :wink:

1 Like

Respectfully, I disagree completely. The two aims listed on the MusicBrainz home page specifically mention music, and audiobooks are not music. They are audible publications of books. There is no fit there.

BookBrainz, on the other hand, “…is a project to create an online database of information about every single book, magazine, journal and other publication ever written.” An audiobook is a book in audio form, and an audiobook on CD, tape, or other physical format, gets an ISBN, just like a hardback or paperback.

BookBrainz may need to be updated to allow for the per-recording details, but that would be better than trying to shoe-horn audiobooks into the MB database.

This is going OT - Music is Audio. Audio is on CD, Tapes, Digital Files. This is what MusicBrainz is designed for. The database is built around the medium. It is built around identifying the audio you have in your possession. This includes the spoken word. Standup Comedy. The podcast. The Radio Show. And the very common AudioBook\AudioDrama.

Where would The Goons fit within the BookBrainz database? Pratchett’s audiobooks are sold alongside his audiodramas. On Cassette and CD. The book reading by one person is as valid as the drama with a full cast. Shakespeare can be performed by one person or fully acted out with people in each role. Supplied on CD, cassette and MP3 This is MusicBrainz bread and butter.

You have given a definition of BookBrainz that makes no mention of Audio. Just the medium of a book. The written word on a page. Not the performance.

Personally, what I think is needed is a sharper defined link between the databases. It is possible to link a MusicBrainz Work to BookBrainz. Is there a similar ability to link a BookBrainz book to the AudioBook MBID sitting inside the MusicBrainz database. That better fits the medium we find the audiobook on. Why re-invent the wheel when the perfect databases exist?

Maybe someone should split this thread from post 6 onwards…


For what it’s worth, I don’t consider audio books as books.
More as CD, audio recordings, like operas.
Audio can be based on books but they are still audio.
When I’m reading, I don’t want audio disturbing me. :wink:

But it would be nice to be able to link MB audiobook as is based on BB work, or something like that.

1 Like

The link is currently at Work level.

Trouble is getting from BookBrainz, to MB Work to the Actual MB Releases is messy. Not all AudioBook\AudioDramas get fully linked to Works, and the nature of a recording leads to many partial works.

What would be nice to see is in that list of released Editions on the BookBrainz Work page would be links in there to the MusicBrainz Release of AudioBooks, AudioDramas and other audio performances of a book. An MB Release seems to match a BookBrainz Edition. If am MB Release had the link across to BookBrainz it would be seen more often.

(Edit: That is a surprise. I assumed adding the BookBrainz Work link to MusicBrainz would also automatically add the reverse link at the BookBrainz end. Things not as auto-crosslinked as I thought.)

1 Like

Audiobooks are not music.

Stand up comedy is also not “music”. Neither are podcasts or radioshows. Speeches and the spoken word that are available on vinyl. I think you are reading the wrong definition by only looking at the title on the front of the website. Dig into the guidelines and you will see that this website covers a very wide range of audio.


So… what do people think about having ISBN as catalogue number :joy:

1 Like

Stop trying to drag this back on topic… LOLZ!!

1 Like

Personally I think “abusing” the catalog number field for this is counterproductive, as it mixes the machine-readable data about real labels and catalog numbers with a messy workaround for a database limitation. Adding it in an annotation would seem to me the most correct choice, even if it’s probably less convenient to edit.

Annotations are searchable too: Search Results - MusicBrainz


Sorry, didn’t mean to drag it off-topic. I merely intended to impart that, since I don’t think audiobooks belong in MB, using the cat. no. for ISBN was not a good idea. Shoulda just said that.

I agree with elomatreb.

1 Like