If you’re a novice author, you may have heard of an ISBN but not know what it is, why you need it, or how to get one. In this article, we’ll answer those questions and more.
What is an ISBN?
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a unique identifier that is assigned to each edition and variation of a book. This includes print books, ebooks, and audiobooks. The ISBN is used to track inventory, sales, and distribution of books.
Why does an author need an ISBN?
An author needs an ISBN to sell their book through bookstores, online retailers, and libraries. The ISBN is used to identify the book and its specific edition, making it easier for retailers and librarians to order, track, and sell the book. Without an ISBN, it can be difficult for retailers and libraries to locate and order your book, which can limit your book’s distribution and sales potential.
Who sells ISBNs?
ISBNs are sold by national ISBN agencies. In the United States, the agency responsible for issuing ISBNs is Bowker. In other countries, there are different agencies responsible for issuing ISBNs. You can find a list of national ISBN agencies on the International ISBN Agency’s website.
How much does an ISBN cost?
The cost of an ISBN varies depending on the country and the number of ISBNs you need. In the United States, Bowker charges $125 for a single ISBN, $295 for 10 ISBNs, and $575 for 100 ISBNs. Other countries may have different pricing structures. Keep in mind that you will need a separate ISBN for each edition and format of your book.
Do I need an ISBN for each different format of the same book?
Yes, you need a separate ISBN for each different format of the same book. This includes print books, ebooks, and audiobooks. Each format is considered a unique product with its own distribution and sales channels.
When should an author buy an ISBN?
An author should buy an ISBN as soon as they are ready to publish their book. This will allow them to include the ISBN on the book’s cover and metadata, making it easier for retailers and libraries to identify and order the book.
Do I need to have an ISBN to self-publish?
No, you do not need to have an ISBN to self-publish. However, having an ISBN can make it easier for retailers and libraries to identify and order your book, which can increase your book’s distribution and sales potential.
Do I need an ISBN to self-publish on Amazon?
No, you do not need an ISBN to self-publish on Amazon. Amazon provides free ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Numbers) to self-published authors. However, if you plan to sell your book through other retailers or libraries, you may want to consider purchasing an ISBN to make it easier for them to order and sell your book.
If I translate a book into another language, do I need a separate ISBN? In which country should I buy it?
Yes, if you translate a book into another language, you will need a separate ISBN for that translation. Each language edition of a book is considered a unique product with its own distribution and sales channels. You should obtain the ISBN from the national ISBN agency of the country where you plan to primarily market and distribute the book. If you plan to distribute and sell the translated book in multiple countries, you may need to obtain separate ISBNs for each country.