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  • Writer's pictureH.A. Worthington

Why Your Book Needs It’s Own ISBN

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

What is an ISBN?

An Internal Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 14-digit number used as a unique identifier for books.

  1. They link essential information used in sales tracking, retail inventory systems, and library catalogs.

  2. They are not necessary to sell ebooks, printed books, however, cannot be sold without one.

Why purchase your own ISBN instead of using the free ones provided by self-publishing service?

  1. To create your own publishing imprint

  2. Eligibility for a Library of Congress Catalog Number (LCCN)

  3. Your own ISBN will mark you as the publisher, allowing you to use any printing on demand (POD)service outside of the self-publishing platform you used.

When do you need a new ISBN?

(No, you can’t reuse them and No, one book can’t have serval ISBNs)

A unique ISBN is required for each edition and format (ex. hardcover, softbound, etc.) of your book.

  1. Large print version

  2. Published in a foreign language

  3. Title/subtitle change

  4. Changes to the binding

  5. Published in another size

When don’t you need a new ISBN?

  1. New cover art

  2. Change in pricing

  3. Switching to another distributor or printing service

  4. Printed in another country if the language is the same

How do you get an ISBN?

  1. Receive a free one from your self-publishing platform

  2. Purchase one from Bowker (USA)

How to purchase an ISBN from Bowker:

2.Click on Sign In/Register


4.Click on “ISBN”

5. Select the quantity

6. Click “Buy Now”

7. Complete checkout

An ISBN is not the same as a barcode or copyright.

A barcode is the graphical representation of your book’s ISBN and price.  To generate a barcode, you’ll need your books ISBN and pricing.  Purchase and download a barcode after you’ve created an account at  You can store your barcodes on the site as well. Make sure you’ve entered the correct price, as it cannot be changed after it’s been generated.

Having an ISBN does not copyright your book.  ISBNs are administered by a private company for the use of the international book trade, while copyright is administered by the Library of Congress, an extension of intellectual property law.

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