Training #100 – ISBNs: The International Standard Book Number

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique 10 or 13 digit code that identifies each edition of a book. In this training, Blaine describes what an ISBN is, why they are important, why they are not important, how you go about getting one, and when it makes sense to do so.

ISBNs are country-specific and there are different organizations in charge of distributing them depending upon where you live. In some countries, it can be quite expensive to register ISBNs unless you are dealing in a large quantity of them, while in other countries they want to promote the arts and you can get them at a more reasonable cost or even for free.

Each edition of your book requires a different ISBN number if you decide to assign one, whether that is your paperback, a hardcover edition, an ebook edition, an audiobook, or even a similar format but separate edition. For example, you may need separate ISBN numbers for your paperback and for a Large Print edition, even if it is also in paperback, or if you have multiple trim sizes available. For ebooks, you can use the same ISBN number across different retailers as long as it is the same file, such as an EPUB, but if you change the contents of the book or sell on Amazon then that would require a different ISBN number since Amazon uses the MOBI format.

Not all versions of your book require an ISBN number, however. Watch the training below for more details: