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  • Writer's pictureElaine Thompson

The ISBN: International Standard Book Number Process


If you're an author, publisher, or self-publisher looking to distribute your book, you'll need to purchase an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). An ISBN is a unique identifier for your book, providing important metadata that helps booksellers and libraries keep track of books.


Here are the steps to purchasing an ISBN:


Determine how many ISBNs you need

You'll need a unique ISBN for each edition and format of your book. For example, if you're publishing a paperback, hardcover, and ebook version of your book, you'll need three ISBNs. If you're only publishing one edition and format, you'll only need one ISBN.


Locate your ISBN agency

Each country has its own ISBN agency, which is responsible for issuing ISBNs to publishers and self-publishers. In the United States, the ISBN agency is Bowker. You can find the ISBN agency for your country by visiting the International ISBN Agency website.

You can purchase your ISBNs directly from your ISBN agency. Bowker offers single ISBNs as well as packages of 10, 100, and 1,000. The more ISBNs you purchase, the lower the cost per ISBN.


Register your ISBNs

Once you've purchased your ISBNs, you'll need to register them with the ISBN agency. This involves providing information about your book, such as the title, author, and publication date. This information is then included in the metadata associated with your book, making it easier for booksellers and libraries to identify and track your book.


Assign your ISBNs to your books

Once your ISBNs are registered, you can assign them to your books. This involves including the ISBN on the copyright page of your book, as well as on the back cover and in the metadata associated with your book.


These are the steps to use when purchasing your ISBN from your ISBN agency. You can ensure that your book is properly identified and tracked, increasing its visibility and accessibility to readers.

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