How Publication Numbers Work
All publications in widespread distribution in China are required to display a valid publication number - a kanhao (刊号). The number indicates the region in which the publication is registered, its format, and sometimes the subject matter it covers.
Here's the publication number for Sanlian Life Week, as displayed on its cover.
- 国内统一刊号: Domestic Universal Publication Number - the name for this system.
- ISSN1005-3603: This is the international number for serial publications (see Wikipedia). Some publications - particularly newspapers - may not display the ISSN.
- CN11-3221/C: This is the domestic publication license number - the actual kanhao. The first two digits indicate the place of origin, according to the chart at right; "11" is Beijing.
The next four digits represent the publication format: 0001-0999 are newspapers, 1000-5999 are serial printed materials (magazines and journals); 6000-8999 are online serial materials; 9000-9999 are electronic serial materials in physical form (CDs and the like).
The letter (not indicated on many publications) represents the subject matter of the publication, according to China's Library Classification System. Here, "C" stands for general sociological topics.
- 邮发代号：82-20: Mail code - used for subscriptions. The first number is the place of origin and type of publication (82 is one of the codes used by magazines in Beijing), and the second is the local circulation ID.
- 定价：￥8元: Cover price - some magazines will list both a cover price and a discounted price.
A small number of magazines actually operate legally without publication numbers. Phoenix Weekly, published out of Hong Kong, lists no number, displaying in its place a note saying "This publication has special permission for sales and circulation on the Chinese mainland."
Another example is VIP Weekly (人物周刊), whose kanhao is CN03-4402/H (see the bar code accompanying the main article). The prefix "03" isn't a valid place of origin, and topic code "H" should indicate language and orthography rather than profiles of famous people. A widely circulated list of unauthorized publications includes several with a CN03 prefix; in many cases the "H" seems to be used to indicate a Hong Kong magazine.
Still other magazines and newspapers belong to the category of "internal publications" (内刊), or publications that are intended to circulate among a closed group of readers. Religious documents and newsletters often lack a book or periodical license; community and corporate newsletters fall into this category as well. Some of these publications may have a relatively high profile - Soho China (Soho小报) is currently visible in Beijing far beyond the reaches of that particular real estate development.