What is an ISBN number and why do you need one as a self-publishing writer? In this post, we will guide you through the process of purchasing an ISBN number, answering all your questions along the way.
What is an ISBN number?
An ISBN number (International Standard Book Number) is a sequence of numbers used to label a book within the categories of the retail publishing market. Conventionally, this number sits above the barcode found on the back cover of a book.
What does an ISBN number look like?
The ISBN number is made up of 5 sections. These individual sections represent the specifications used to identify the book. There are many resources out there that provide an in-depth anatomy of a 13-digit ISBN, but the basics are pretty easy to grasp (grab your nearest book and follow along!):
Why do I need an ISBN number?
Libraries, wholesalers and distributors, all the way down to your small-town indie booksellers, will use it to distinguish your book among the masses. It isn't always compulsory, yet there are a few disadvantages to not having an ISBN where it isn’t an essential requirement, for example in the case of eBook publishing. However, in the case of printed books, you cannot sell a physical publication without an ISBN number. Without this form of identification, your book will be absent from numerous publication search engines that could significantly increase your exposure, such as the well-established Books in Print database. Overall, not securing an ISBN could have a large impact on your success as a self-publishing writer.