R. R. Bowker

R. R. Bowker LLC (trading as Bowker) is an American limited liability company based in New Providence, New Jersey, and incorporated in Delaware.[2] Among other things, Bowker provides bibliographic information on published works to the book trade, including publishers, booksellers, libraries, and individuals; its roots in the industry trace back to 1868. Bowker is the exclusive U.S. agent for issuing International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs), a universal method of identifying books in print. Bowker is the publisher of Books in Print and other compilations of information about books and periodical titles. It provides supply chain services and analytical tools to the book publishing industry.[3] Bowker is headquartered in New Providence, New Jersey, with additional operational offices in England and Australia. It is now owned by Cambridge Information Group.[4]

R. R. Bowker
Parent companyCambridge Information Group
FounderFrederick Leypoldt
Headquarters locationNew Providence, New Jersey
Key peopleAnnie Callanan, CEO & President[1]
Publication typesBooks



The company was founded in New York City by Frederick Leypoldt, a German immigrant who worked as a bookseller and recognized the need for good bibliographic information to make the book business more efficient. He established the monthly Literary Bulletin, his first periodical, in 1868. In 1870 Leypoldt issued the first edition of his Annual American Catalogue, the forerunner for Books in Print. In 1872 he published the first issue of Publishers Weekly, in 1873 the first Publishers' Uniform Trade-List Annual (later the Publishers Trade List Annual), and in 1876 the first issue of Library Journal. In 1878 Leypoldt's company was acquired by Richard Rogers Bowker. Leypoldt and Bowker also founded two influential standard book-industry references: Literary Marketplace and Ulrich's Periodicals Directory.[5]

In 1967, the Xerox Corporation acquired the R. R. Bowker company, and then, in 1985, sold it to Reed International (now RELX Group). That same year, in 1985, Publishers Weekly—after 113 years as a part of R. R. Bowker—was transferred to the Cahners Publishing Company.[6] In 1991, Reed's reference division moved to New Providence, New Jersey.[7] In 2001, Cambridge Information Group acquired Bowker.[8] After the sale, In 2007, Cambridge Information Group sold Literary Marketplace and other directories to Information Today Inc.[9] Cambridge Information Group merged Cambridge Scientific Abstracts with ProQuest Information and Learning to form ProQuest LLC, a privately held limited liability company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and incorporated in Delaware. R. R. Bowker LLC was repositioned as an affiliate of ProQuest.[clarification needed][10]

Selected publications

  • Books in Print lists nearly all books that are currently available in English and in the United States from major publishers. A resource for bookstores, libraries, and publishers, it is available in a print version, but is most often accessed electronically. Books in Print lists several million books, a number that is only exceeded by Amazon. It was first published in 1977.[citation needed]
  • The Library and Book Trade Almanac (formerly The Bowker Annual) is a resource for librarians, publishers, and booksellers which provides reviews of "key trends, events, and developments" in the industry; statistics on book prices, numbers of books published, library expenditures, and average salaries; explanations of new legislation and changes in funding programs; and other information.[11]


Bowker is the United States provider of International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs), a code for identifying commercial books devised by Gordon Foster in 1967. An ISBN is currently placed on a book to uniquely identify it. ISBNs are available one at a time and in blocks up to 100,000 for a set fee.[12] ISBNs may be purchased and maintained at Bowker's My Identifiers website. Many countries, including the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, to name a few, charge for ISBNs. Canada and Mexico provide ISBNs free of charge as their ISBN agencies are government funded.[13][14] Bowker USA charges $125 for one ISBN[15] and offers substantial discounts on volume purchases.

See also


  1. ^ "Company Overview of R. R. Bowker LLC" Bloomberg Businessweek (accessed April 17, 2014)
  2. ^ "Bowker Investigating Breach of ISBN Site" . Publishers Weekly. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  3. ^ "Bowker Moves Forward Under New Ownership" , by Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly, Vol. 249, No. 2, January 14, 2002, p. 11; ISSN 0000-0019
  4. ^ "Bowker Moves Forward Under New Ownership" . Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of library and information science, Allen Kent (ed.), New York: Marcel Dekker (1970), pp. 133–148; OCLC 58646542
  6. ^ "Reed to Acquire Xerox Subsidiary" . The New York Times. June 13, 1985. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Horner, Shirley (February 6, 1994). "The Political Scene" . About Books (column). The New York Times. p. 13. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  8. ^ Mary H. Munroe (2004). "Cambridge Information Group Timeline" . The Academic Publishing Industry: A Story of Merger and Acquisition. Archived from the original on October 2014 – via Northern Illinois University.
  9. ^ Hane, Paula J. (October 2001). "Reed Elsevier Sells Bowker to CSA, ITI". Information Today; Medford. 18 (9). pp. 1–70. ISSN 8755-6286 . ProQuest 214842745 .
  10. ^ ProQuest website — "Company history"
  11. ^ The Library and Book Trade Almanac 2009 54th ed., Medford, New Jersey: Information Today, Inc.; ISSN 2150-5446
  12. ^ "Bowker's Andy Weissberg on ISBNs and the Future" , by Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer, May 19, 2010, (accessed February 12, 2011)
  13. ^ Government of Canada. "ISBN Canada" . Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  14. ^ Government of Mexico. "Agencia Nacional ISBN México" . Secretaria de Cultura. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  15. ^ "Purchase ISBNs" . Bowker. Retrieved April 10, 2016.

External links


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