23 Oct 2018

Cracking The ISBN Number Secret

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ISBN barcode for booksAn ISBN number is essential to properly classifying your book, so that book sellers can find it and the information about it.

  • Do you need one?
  • Should you use the ones supplied “for free” from the various self-publishing companies?
  • What do these numbers do, anyway?

Let’s being by defining their purpose. These are 13-digit codes which identify books and similar products. These are required by booksellers, libraries, distributors, and others to uniquely identify an edition of a book. Each number includes digits which let the bookseller know which publishing company published the book.

If you intend to sell a paperback or hardcover book an ISBN is essential. Bookstores and distributors require an ISBN, and generally won’t carry a book that does not have one.

Each edition of a book requires a different ISBN. For example, if you published a hardcover and a paperback version of the book you would need two numbers. You do not necessarily need an ISBN number for ebooks, although it can make the ebook appear more professional or official. Significant changes to a book are considered a new edition and require new ISBN numbers. Minor alterations, such as correcting grammar or typographical errors, do not because these are considered reprints. In addition, changing the cover of a book does not require a new number.

The ISBN number and the bar code are two different things. The bar code is purchased separately , and allows scanners at bookstores to identify the book being purchased. The bar code may also include other information such as the price of the book. If you are not going to sell your book in bookstores, you do not necessarily need a bar code.

When is an ISBN number NOT required?

Theses numbers are expensive. In the United States, a single number costs $125 although a block of 10 or 100 cost significantly less per ISBN. Before you spend that money, there are times when you don’t need one.

For an e-book, if you’re only publishing it on your website or selling it on Amazon, you don’t need one. Amazon uses ASIN numbers to internally track books, and for them that takes the place of ISBN numbers.

When is an ISBN number needed?

  1. Paperback and hardcover books require ISBN numbers.
  2. These numbers group your books together under your publishing companies name. If your e-book doesn’t use one, it appears as published by something like “Amazon Digital Services LLC”. By using your own number, you can list your book under your imprint of your publishing company name (or any other phrase that you like).
  3. Taking advantage of other publishers requires an ISBN number. Amazon is not the only market, and there are other publishers such as iBooks, Kobo an Barnes and Noble.
  4. An ISBN number causes your eBook to rank higher on Google because Google lists books that appear in Bowker’s Books in Print in its search engine. note that for your book to be listed in this database you need to fill out the form at Books in Print. It’s not listed just because you purchase a number.
  5. Some countries require ISBN numbers for eBooks.
  6. if your eBook is going to be sold to libraries, then you will need to assign ISBN numbers.

How To Get An ISBN Number

For more information about ISBN numbers see the Bowker website, which is the only supplier of these numbers in the United States. Other countries have their own ISBN suppliers.

You can use the freely provided ISBN numbers from your platform if you want. However, if you ARE going to purchase one yourself, then get your own from your country’s ISBN supplier.

What Does An ISBN Number Cost?

In the United States, the cost of an ISBN number is significant. You can buy them singly or save quite a bit of money by purchasing a pack of 10 or 100 (or more if needed).

How much does it cost to get a number for a book? In the US, a single ISBN is $125, 10 of them cost $250 and 100 cost $575.

Most publishing platforms such as Amazon offer free numbers with significant limitations on their use. Generally, if you purchase your own number, you can move the book to any publishing platform you want; using one from the platform means you cannot move that edition of that book.

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