Today, AuthorHouse would like to discuss something that can be a bit puzzling to first-time writers: the International Standard Book Number, or ISBN. Don’t worry, though; the ISBN learning curve is mostly at the beginning, and you’ll be an expert in no time (or at least knowledgeable enough for your self-publishing needs).
With that, we present seven ISBN questions and answers!
What is the ISBN? It’s a unique, 13-digit number that’s used internationally to identify not only individual books, but separate editions and formats (hardcover, paperback, etc.)
The subject of ISBNs for e-books is becoming complicated, as there are numerous formats (epub, mobi, etc.) Some authorities will recommend getting a separate ISBN for each electronic format; at the same time, others will tell you that you need no ISBN at all if your book will only be sold as an e-book. We recommend taking the safe route and getting one.
Are ISBNs only for traditionally published books? No, self-published books require them also, in order to be available in bookstores or libraries.
Who can issue an ISBN? In the United States, Bowker is the only company authorized to issue the numbers. As the program is internationally recognized, you do not need to buy different ISBNs for each country.
How many should you buy? You can buy an ISBN individually or in sets of 10, 100, or 1000; however, they get cheaper the more you buy, so if you anticipate publishing more books (or having more than one version or edition of the same book), you should consider buying more than one.
Can an ISBN be reused? No. Regardless of book sales, you cannot reuse an ISBN.
Is getting an ISBN the same as being copyrighted? Another no. Copyright falls under intellectual property law, and is administered by the Library of Congress (in the United States).
Where is the ISBN displayed? On the back cover of the book (with the bar code), and on the book’s copyright page.