The Simplest Way to Get an ISBN Number as a Self-Published Author

The Simplest Way to Get an ISBN Number as a Self-Published Author

The Simplest Way to Get an ISBN Number as a Self-Published Author

As a self-publishing author, it is important that you know how to get an ISBN number. You can get your own ISBN barcode for your book by purchasing it from an ISBN agency like Bellevue Publishers for the most feasible price. The important thing to keep in mind is that you will need an ISBN number for each version of your title, for example, the print version of your book or your eBook.

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit code assigned to books and related products as a unique identifier. This number identifies the book's code digits, language, publisher, title, edition, and format.

An ISBN is essential for printed books that are distributed through retail bookstores, libraries, and wholesale companies. Each version of the book requires a different ISBN, and ISBNs are not mandatory for eBooks or books that will not be sold in stores or libraries.

1. Should a self-published author get an ISBN?

If you intend to sell your self-published book in bookstores or libraries, you should obtain an ISBN for it. Likewise, an ISBN is necessary if you want to sell your printed book on online retailers or book aggregators such as Amazon self-publishing.

Amazon provides a free ISBN for print books published through KDP. It is crucial to note that regardless of the type of book you are writing, be it a children's book or a nonfiction book, an ISBN is essential for your printed book to be available in bookstores or libraries.

There are some restrictions on this matter. Generally, eBooks do not require an ISBN, except for some specific situations, such as publishing through digital online distributors/aggregators. For instance, if you plan to publish through Draft2Digital, they demand that your book has an ISBN. Although they provide a free ISBN, it is advisable to purchase your own.

2. Advantages and Disadvantages of getting a free ISBN.

The primary benefit is that it's cost-free, which can be advantageous if you're operating on a tight budget or encountering difficulties acquiring an ISBN in your area.

In the United States, you can purchase an ISBN through Bowker, while in the United Kingdom, you can buy one through Nielson, both of which offer a straightforward process for obtaining ISBNs.

Obtaining an ISBN can be a bureaucratic process if you're in a foreign country. However, if possible, it is recommended that you purchase your own ISBN. You can get Amazon free ISBN, Ingram Spark free ISBN, or kdp free ISBN if you think they are the best option for you.

The disadvantage of getting a free ISBN is that you will have to list Amazon or the self-publishing platform as the publisher. You will also end up with numerous ISBNs for the same book, which looks very unprofessional. And to top it off, free ISBNs are non-transferable.

3. Choose between paid and free ISBNs.

There are several major ISBN providers who are popular options for many authors seeking ISBNs. However, if your publishing goals permit, it is also feasible to obtain low-cost or free ISBNs.

Why it is crucial to buy an ISBN anyway.

You can get an ISBN for free or for a discounted price, or if you are only publishing digitally on Amazon, you don’t need an ISBN at all, as all you would need is an ASIN. So the question arises, why would anyone ever pay for an ISBN?

The thing is, when you register for an ISBN number through an aggregator, industry regulations mean that you are limited to the retail channels of that company alone. Whereas, if you simply buy an ISBN from the start means, you can expand wherever you see fit.

Suppose your sales aren’t that strong, and you want to make your book available on other distribution channels, like BookBay and eBookPartnership. Therefore, if you do not have an independently-bought ISBN, you will need to register for separate numbers from each publishing company you partner with.

This type of thing can harm your book's chances of getting stocked in brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries as you will have several ISBNs, and there will be different publishers listed on the same book, which looks seriously unprofessional.

In the end, it is totally up to you if you want to keep your ISBN consistent between the aggregators or if you are satisfied with a mix. Moreover, if you are unsure which decision would serve you best, you can consider working with a professional book marketer who will maximize your chances of success.

4. Identify providers in your region

Every nation or region has its own local ISBN supplier. Bowker, which is the official agency for the United States, is possibly the most well-known ISBN provider. In the United Kingdom, authors can purchase an ISBN through Nielsen.

Here is a simple way you can search for your local provider.


Once you have identified your local provider, you can buy your ISBN.

5. Buy ISBNs in bulk to get the best value.

The simple rule would be one book and one ISBN, right? Well, it is not that simple.

ISBNs are generally offered at a significant discount when purchased in bulk, and it is uncommon to require only a single ISBN. For instance, if you plan to publish a paperback book and intend to release a revised edition, hardcover edition, or audiobook version in the future, a new ISBN would be required for each format. Purchasing individual ISBNs from Bowker for all these formats can cost you up to $500 for 4 ISBNs. However, if you purchase 10 ISBNs in bulk, it would only cost you $295.

When starting out, it is a wise decision to invest in 10 ISBNs, even if you are currently working on a single book.

Summing It Up

It is safe to say that now you know the most straightforward way on how to get an ISBN number as a self-published author. However, if there is a chance that you still might find it a bit difficult, you can always ask professionals to handle the entire process of getting an ISBN for your book.

You can always reach out to Bellevue Publishers, as we have professionals who are experts at helping authors get ISBN numbers based on their requirements.