ISBN: Official Identity of Your Book | Get Your Book Registered for Sale

ISBN: Official Identity of Your Book | Get Your Book Registered for Sale

getting an isbn number

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    Book writing is a tough task on its own, but book publishing and distribution is a time taking and hefty procedure. But book writing professionals and book writing companies have made it possible for anyone to write a book. Even book editing, book formatting, and book cover designing services are easily available.

    There are a number of ways in which you can get your book noticed and bought by the seekers. You can reach out to publishing houses, each of which offers different publishing packages that include a book deal, printing services, and book marketing strategies. Self-publishing requires you to take care of the brand yourself; including marketing, sales, and shipping, which is very difficult to take care of on your own. Hence, it’s always a smart choice to hand over the heavy lifting to book writers at Penguin Book Writers who specialize in helping you with all that.

    In order to publish your book, there are some legal requirements that you must go through. One of them is ISBN Registration. In this article, you will learn everything that you need to know about ISBN, focusing mainly on registering through Bowker (US ISBN Agency).

    What is an ISBN?

    ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a unique identifier assigned to books and other publications to facilitate their identification in bookstores, libraries, and other distribution networks. An ISBN is typically a 13-digit number that is assigned to a specific edition and format of a book, such as a hardcover or paperback. It provides information about the book’s publisher, country of origin, and title, among other things.

    Why is an ISBN Number Important?

    For self-published authors, obtaining an ISBN is important because it helps to make their books more discoverable and accessible to readers. Most retailers, including online booksellers, require books to have an ISBN in order to be listed for sale. In some countries, such as the United States, it is also necessary to have an ISBN in order to sell a book in bookstores or libraries.

    What is the Cost of an ISBN Number for a Book?

    • Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program offers free ISBNs to authors who publish their books through their platform.
    • In the United States, ISBNs are available for purchase from Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency, and the cost of a single ISBN is currently $125. However, Bowker offers discounts for purchasing multiple ISBNs at once.
    • In Canada, ISBNs are available for free through the government agency responsible for ISBNs.
    • Australians Spend Approximately $40 for an ISBN.
    • The Cost of an ISBN for UK Residents: 89 Pounds.
    • Some other countries offer a mix of free and paid ISBN options.

    Also Read: How Much Does It Cost To Publish A Book?

    What Is the Purpose of an ISBN Number?

    The main purpose of an ISBN number is to identify a particular book and distinguish it from other books. It allows publishers, booksellers, and libraries to order and catalog books more efficiently. It also helps to prevent counterfeiting and piracy of books.

    Getting an ISBN Outside of the USA

    In the US and the UK, Bowker and Nielsen respectively are responsible for managing ISBN numbers and charge a fee for obtaining them. However, in many other countries, such as those with government or publicly-funded agencies, ISBN numbers are provided free of charge. This means that if you are located outside the US, you may be able to obtain an ISBN number at no cost through these agencies.

    You can find out your local ISBN agency by searching for it on the official ISBN website. While ISBNs are assigned locally, you can use them internationally.

    How Long Does It Take to Get an ISBN Number?

    When you apply for the ISBN through Bowker (US ISBN Agency), you will get your ISBN within 5 days depending on the nature of your application.

    1. Non-priority Processing: You can get your ISBN within 5 business days if you apply for non-priority processing.
    2. Priority Processing: You can get your ISBN within 2 business days if you choose priority processing.
    3. Express Processing: You can get your ISBN within 24 business hours if you choose express processing.

    How to Register Your Book’s ISBN Number

    Here’s a list of some general steps that you may need to follow:

    1. Obtain your ISBN Number: If you have not already purchased an ISBN number, you will need to do so before registering it for your book. You can purchase an ISBN number from the agency responsible for ISBNs in your country or region.

    Now you can go to Bowker’s official website or the one responsible for your country’s ISBNs in order to register your book’s ISBN. An alternate method is mentioned below.

    1. Complete the Registration Form: The registration form for your book’s ISBN number may be available online or in print. You will need to provide the necessary information about your book and your ISBN number in order to complete the registration process.
    2. Submit the Registration Form: Once you have completed the registration form, you will need to submit it to the agency responsible for ISBNs in your country or region. This may involve sending the form via email, mail, or an online submission system.
    3. Wait for Confirmation: After submitting your registration form, you will need to wait for confirmation that your ISBN number has been registered for your book. This may take a few days or longer, depending on the agency and their processing times.

    By following these steps, you can register your book’s ISBN number and ensure that it is properly linked to your book for distribution and sales purposes.

    How Many ISBN Numbers Should You Get?

    First of all, let mw clarify some common misconceptions surrounding the usage of ISBNs:

    • An ISBN can be used only once (for one book).
    • An ISBN can be used internationally, hence selling your book in different countries doesn’t require you to purchase different ISBNs.
    • You need an ISBN for every specific format of the book and any new versions. (For example; if you want to sell your book in print, as an eBook, and also as an audiobook).
    • You can’t use the same ISBN for books belonging to a book series.
    • However; for a book series, you can use the same ISSN (International Standard Series Number) from the Library of Congress, on top of different ISBNs for each book.

    Now purchasing a single ISBN may seem economical on the surface, but if you are really serious about writing books and making sales, then you must sell your book in every possible format, which would require different ISBNs (a print book ISBN, an E-book ISBN and an audiobook ISBN). And if you are planning on writing more books in the future, then why not purchase more ISBNs altogether, especially when Bowker offers tremendous discounts?

    Do ISBNs have an Expiry Date?

    No, ISBNs cannot be expired. Even if you have a decade-old purchased and unused ISBN, you can revive it and use it for your book. In fact, if your really old ISBN is not according to the newly reconstructed format, then you can easily convert it from the same place you purchased it.

    Reading an ISBN Number (with an Example)

    As of 2007, the ISBN is a 13-digit number. You can tell a lot about a book and its author by reading the ISBN number. Let’s learn how to read an ISBN through an example:

    Suppose a book has this ISBN: 978-1-20-335943-0

    You’ll notice that the number is divided into 5 combinations, and each one determines a specific property of the book.

    • 978” simply tells us that this whole number is an ISBN.
    • 1” determines the language of the book, which in this case is English. 0-1 is for English, 2 for French, 3 for German, 4 for Japanese, 5 for Russian and 7 is for Chinese. Other rare languages have a longer number; for example, Indonesian is 602 whereas Turkish is 9944.
    • 20” indicates the publisher code specific for each publisher, it can be as long as 9 digits.
    • 3335943” identifies a specific book or a specific edition of a book as assigned by the publisher. It can be a single or multiple digits.
    • 0” is the last digit and is known as the “check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a single, fixed digit.

    Where Is the ISBN Number on a Book?

    The ISBN number can be found on the back cover or on the title page of a book. It is also usually listed on online retailers such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

    Searching Your Book’s ISBN

    If you want to look up the ISBN of your book or any book out there, you can do so easily by visiting the website You can search by typing in the ISBN, book title or author’s name.

    Reading a Barcode on a Book (with an Example)

    The barcode on a book contains two barcodes: the EAN generated from the ISBN number on the left, and an EAN-5 on the right containing the book’s price, with the first digit being 5 and the following 4 digits indicating the price. For example, if the number reads 53250, this means the price of the book is set at $32.50. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, though the ISBN wouldn’t change.

    To buy a barcode you must first purchase an ISBN. You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo.

    Read More: How to Publish Your Book For Free And Get Paid 

    ASIN and ISBN: What’s the Difference?

    ISBNs are used to track books globally and identify their unique characteristics, while an ASIN, or Amazon Standard Identification Number, is a unique identifier assigned by Amazon to identify a product in their catalog only.

    Why Do I Need an ISBN?

    Self-published authors can benefit from acquiring an ISBN, as it can increase the visibility and availability of their books to potential readers. The majority of book retailers, including online platforms, mandate the use of ISBN for listing books for sale. In certain nations like the United States, selling books in bookstores or libraries also necessitates an ISBN.

    How Do You Buy an ISBN Number?

    The ISBN number is assigned by the publisher when the book is published. The publisher must apply for an ISBN number from the International ISBN Agency or a local ISBN agency in your country. In some countries, self-publishers can purchase a single ISBN for their book, while in others they may need to purchase a block of ISBNs. It’s important to research the requirements in your country and to ensure that your book has an ISBN before publishing. Once the publisher has been assigned an ISBN number, they will assign it to the book.

    Should You Buy Your Own ISBN Number?

    Using multiple free ISBNs for the same book, obtained from different publishers, can make self-publishers appear unprofessional to bookstores. Sometimes bookstores refuse to stock your book due to the self-publishing company being identified as the publisher.

    This can be avoided by purchasing your own ISBN from Bowker.

    Libraries and ISBN Numbers

    As eBooks gain popularity, libraries are playing a bigger role in their distribution. For example, “Overdrive” is the largest provider of eBooks to schools and libraries worldwide, serving over 30,000 institutions. They also distribute eBooks to retail stores around the globe, generating millions of sales. Hence, it is high time that you should get an ISBN and start stocking your book in libraries!

    ISBN: Resource Links

    International ISBN Agency by Bowker

    Bowkerlink Publisher Access System

    Bowker Identifier Services

    U.S. Copyright Office

    ISBN Set Up Guide

    ISBN Guides: Basic Information


    For self-published authors, obtaining an ISBN is important because it makes their books more discoverable. But what is the point of going through all that if your book is not even up to the mark? There is a lot of competition out there, so making sure that your book stands out and is desirable enough is not easy. Don’t worry! Expert book writers at Penguin Book Writers Company have helped emerging authors in their journey! So, hurry up and enlighten us with your ideas and let us help you in authoring award-winning books.

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