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What is an ISBN number?
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number which is a 13-digit code used to uniquely identify a book in distribution channels. This number allows publishers, libraries, and book dealers to identify and order books. You must have an ISBN for your book if you wish to sell it through retail outlets.
The 13-digit number is broken down into sections separated by a hyphen. For example, an ISBN may look like this: 978-0-9768076-7-4. The sections identify different things, one of which is the publisher of the book. You will often see ISBNs printed without the hyphens. Prior to 2005 ISBNs consisted of 10 digits, they now consist of 13 digits. Currently you will receive both a 10 digit and 13 digit version of an ISBN for each of your book titles.
Every book, and each version of a book, requires a unique ISBN. If you have both a paperback and a hardcovr edition fo the same book, each will need a to have a differnt ISBN assigned to it. This will allow the right version of the book to be identified and ordered.
In the United States ISBNs are assigned by R.R. Bowker through their website Identifier Services. They are the only authorized seller of ISBNs in the United States. You may purchase a block of ISBNs or a single ISBN. If you have more than one book you will be publishing, or publishing different versions of the same book, purchasing them in a block is more cost efficient.
Some companies offer to resell a single ISBN but this is a violation of the ISBN standard and industry practice. Subsidy or vanity publishers will offer you an ISBN for your book; the ISBN they assign to your book identifies them as the publisher of the book, not you. You will not be able to use that ISBN if you take your book to a different publisher or self-publish.
Looking for more help and advice on self-publishing or just have a few questions? Read about our Self-Publishing Consulting.
Author: Kimberly Martin
At Jera Publishing our goal is to provide you with the knowledge, services, tools, and support you need to successfully self-publish your book.
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