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An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a requirement when selling your book. This number is essentially the ‘serial number’ for the specific edition of any book.

ISBNs come in 13 digit and 10 digit forms, until 2007 the 10 digit ISBN was the standard used however 13 digit ISBNs are now the ISO approved format. Your book will be assigned both a 10 digit and 13 digit value, the 13 digit ISBN is what should be used to create your bar code.


What does the ISBN signify?

The ISBN is a record of your books title, format and imprint of record. Each format of your book will have a separate ISBN number and each ISBN is tied to a specific Imprint (publisher). This means that if you wish to have a 6×9 paperback, a 5.25×8 paperback, a hardcover, and an eBook, each of these are considered separate editions and each require separate ISBNs. Additionally if you have a 6×9 paperback that is published by 2 publishers each also require a separate ISBN as the ISBN reflects the Imprint.


Where do I obtain ISBNs

  1. most POD services have a free ISBN option which you can choose. The issue with the free ISBN is that they are tied to the service provider as Imprint. This means that your publisher on sites such as Amazon is listed as the service provider. From a marketing standpoint this can be seen in a negative light. Additionally, you can not use this free ISBN with any other print service so if you get your book printed elsewhere (another POD or offset print run) you need to do so with a separate ISBN.
  2. purchased ISBNs, you can purchase ISBNs from the registered agency in your country of origin. In the U. S. these come from Bowker, in the U.K. – Neilsen and in Canada they are free so long as you register as a publisher via the CISS (Canadian ISBN Service System). A purchased (or free Canadian) ISBN will be tied to your own Imprint and can be used at any printer you, as the publisher, wish.


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