We strongly urge you to put a barcode on the front cover of your magazine. With a barcode we can scan merchandise which facilitates quick and reliable identification of magazines, thereby enabling us to better track the flow of inventory.

If you do not already have a barcode the first thing you need to do is to obtain your unique product I.D. number, known as a "bipad" number in the magazine industry, from a clearinghouse called Bipad, Inc., also known as Harrington Associates. They are located at 12 Main St., suite B, Norwalk, CT, 06851. Their phone# is 203-338-1701, their fax# is 203-838-1861, their e-mail address is, and their website address is They currently charge a $300.00 administrative fee for the acquisition of a bipad number. Additional bipad numbers can be purchased for smaller incremental amounts. Refer to their website for an application form and additional information.

Barcodes are essential in today's marketplace for a number of reasons.

Firstly, every magazine that we process internally, whether in the form of shipments or returns, must have a barcode so that it can be processed with our computerized inventory management system. Scanning permits the data captured from the barcodes to be efficiently and accurately recorded. With this information we can conveniently track returns and regulate orders so as to maximize sales and minimize waste. Computers can far more quickly sort and count returns than a person can do so with physical copies, one by one. We have the capability to create barcodes in-house so we can accommodate magazines without barcodes. However there is additional expense involved in purchasing and producing labels as well as applying them by hand to each copy, which is very time consuming. In the future we may implement a policy of charging publishers for this service, but we would prefer if the minority of publishers lacking barcodes adopted them so that a surcharge wouldn't be necessary.

Secondly, many of our more important and larger retailers have upgraded or will soon be upgrading their technology so that they can scan in barcode data, which then can be integrated into their computerized inventory control systems. These retailers will not allow products into their stores that are missing barcodes, so you risk losing access to these locations if you do not use them. Barcodes enable retailers to perform a variety of tasks that would otherwise not be feasible or could only be done inefficiently, including: a) tracking sales so as to quickly and scientifically adjust orders; b) check-in incoming shipments so as to verify the data on our invoices; c) generate detailed credit memos for returns that are accurately calculated; d) determine when magazines have sold out so that they can be cued to place reorders; e) avoid overlapping distribution of the same titles from different distributors.

Barcodes for U.S. based magazines typically contains a fourteen digit Universal Price Code or UPC number, typically consists of the following set of numbers in the sequence described here: 1) a one digit "number system" character, usually a "0" or "7"; 2) A five digit vendor I.D. number; 3) a five digit bipad or product I.D. number; 4) a one digit check number; 3) a two digit issue code. An example of a UPC number would be the following: "0-74470-12345-1-01," where "0" is the number system character, "74470" is the vendor I.D.#, "12345" is the bipad#, "1" is the check#, and "01" is the issue code. Barcodes for foreign magazines typically have a six digit vendor# and a six digit bipad#.

The vendor I.D. number usually belongs to a publisher or wholesaler which represent multiple magazines titles. You can use the Ubiquity vendor I.D.# which is "7-50634," the "7" digit representing the number system character, provided you will only be using us a distributor. However, if you are working with other distributors, you should use a generic "0-74470" I.D. number assigned by Bipad, Inc. to independent publishers, the "0" digit representing the number system character. The number system character helps define the type of product involved. Zero and seven represent generic commodity types.

The two digit issue code varies with the issue published in a given year. For example a monthly magazine typically makes use of the issue codes 01, 02, ... 11, 12 for each of the 12 months of the year. Similarly, a bi-monthly makes use of the codes 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06. A special issue, such as a buyer's guide, or annual can be assigned the next number in sequence, e.g. 13 for a monthly or 07 for a bi-monthly. An issue code must be unique during a given year but can be repeated in subsequent years. Refer to Bipad Inc's, guideline book entitled "Magazine Title & Issue Coding" for more detailed instructions about assigning numeric issue codes.

The check digit is calculated by a formula making use of all of the UPC number's first eleven digits, which enables the scanning system to verify that it has accurately read each of the digits in the bar code. The formula is as follows: The check digit is equal to the smallest number, which when added to the sum of the even digits of the UPC and the product of the sum of the odd digits and 3, produces a multiple of 10. In the case of the 0-74470-12345-1-01 UPC number cited above, the sum of the even digits is 17 (7+4+0+2+4) and the sum of the odd digits 20 (0+4+7+1+3+5). Therefore, 17 + (3 x 20) = 77, so that a check digit of 3 added to 77 yields the final number 80 which is divisible by 10.

After you have determined the numbers that will appear on your barcode you need to produce film masters for each issue that will appear in a given year. These film masters can be re-used in subsequent years since the issue codes will repeat. A film master is a very accurate photographic representation of a bar code used to make printing plates. The film master should be designed with the following in mind: The barcode must be large enough, both horizontally and vertically, so that it can be readily and accurately scanned; the barcode should produced with an acceptable level of resolution; the bars should be black and the background white so that they contrast well against each other; the barcode should be place on the bottom of the front cover in either corner; we prefer that the barcode lay flat rather than on end so that the vertical bars are parallel with the long vertical edge of the magazine; all the numbers of the UPC code, as described above, must be represented in the vertical bars as well as in text format; there should be an adequate margin between the barcode and the edge of the magazine. One company that produces film masters is Publication Identification & Processing Systems (PIPS), located at 436 E. 87 St., New York, N.Y., 10128-6502. Their phone# is 212-996-6000, their fax# is 212-410-7477, their e-mail is and their website is

Questions regarding barcode standards can be addressed to the Uniform Code Council, located at 7887 Washington Village Drive, Dayton, OH, 45459. Their phone# is 937-435-3870, their fax# is 937-435-4749, and their website is The website includes a list of companies that produce film masters, barcodes, and barcoding equipment.

UBIquity Distributors, inc. is a distributor of periodicals, magazines and publications.
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