The ISBN is a key element in the book industry.

What is an ISBN? An ISBN is the 13-digit International Standard Book Number used to identify books. Bookstores and distributors use them to organize their databases. An ISBN has five parts: the Bowker prefix, the country, the publisher, the title, and the check digit.

What is its purpose? Your book’s International Standard Book Number is used to identify, find, and order your book. It streamlines cataloging by book sellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers, and distributors.

You need an ISBN for each edition and type; for example, a hardback copy would need a different number than a paperback copy. Ebooks are not universally required to have ISBNs because sellers have immediate access to their digital files.

Search engines can also find your book based on its ISBN.

Where can I get an ISBN? Bowker is the official ISBN Agency for the United States. It is solely responsible for the assignment of the ISBN prefix to those publishers with a residence or office in the United States. Bowker also promotes the use of the Bookland EAN bar code format.

How much does an ISBN cost?

Bowker reduced ISBN block pricing in 2010!

  • Single ISBN: $125.00
  • Ten (10) ISBN: $250.00
  • One Hundred (100) ISBN: $575.00
  • One Thousand (1000) ISBN: $1,000.00

You can also get single ISBNs (cheaper) from CreateSpace through an arrangement with Bowker.

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