ISBN 101 for Authors … EVERY Book Needs One!

One of the fastest ways to tell if a book is “self-published” is the tell-tale missing ISBN. The International Standard Book Number … a number that will start with “978” … the code for books that is needed for ordering and identification that is followed by another ten digits. ISBN 101 is all about What you need to know about International Standard Book Numbers and why you should use them.


Let’s start with: What is an ISBN?
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a 13-digit number that is used internationally as a unique identifier for books.  They are used to establish and identify one title or edition of a title, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors. It will be placed on the back cover and included on the 

How to Get Your ISBNcopyright page of your interior.


Does every book need one?
If that’s where you would like to have your books available to bookstores, libraries, or through online retailers like Amazon, you will need an ISBN. No exceptions.

How many ISBN’s should you have?
Always a good question. My best advice: never stop at just one – it’s a significant mistake. Each edition of your book; each format style for print (hardbound, softbound/paper), you will need a new ISBN. For “e” use one. Yes, I know that Amazon’s Kindle doesn’t require it–other services do. The purpose of an ISBN is to identify titles and editions – you will need an ISBN for each edition of your title. It’s the unique number that goes with your book “version.” And, it allows any retailer to help a customer understand exactly which version of a title they are purchasing.

Can you buy just one ISBN?
Sure, but why would you do that? It costs far more to buy one at a time. If you ever purchase another edition of your book, or another book entirely, you will need more than one ISBN. Packages of 10 ISBNs are offered at heavily discounted prices–and I would encourage to think BIG here. Every once in awhile, the keeper of the ISBNs, Bowker, actually overs a discount for greater numbers. 

Where can you buy ISBNs?
The only company authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States is Bowker. They run the ISBN website at You can purchase your ISBNs by visiting their site

hot topicsHOT TIP … has a special program for it’s author customers where you can buy ONE ISBN and have it registered in your publishing name … and wait, wait … there’s more. It’s at a substantial discount from what you would pay if you bought a single ISBN through Bowker, the official ISBN seller in the U.S. 




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Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 33 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (ForeWord IndieFab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences. Book #33 will be published in June: The CrowdFunding Guide for Authors and Writers.

Become part of her inner circle by joining the Author’s Ark and exclusive monthly webinar and coaching event. Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Book Publishing Unplugged, a three day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. In 2015, the dates are August 27-29th.  Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U – Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet Network at .

Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and Judith Briles – TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at


header-logo1.pngAuthor U is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the author who wants to be seriously successful. Monthly education programs delivered face-to-face and online, The Author Resource ezine, BookCamps and the annual Author U Extravaganza are tools designed for authors pre, during and post publishing of their books. Join today.

 If you are looking for FREE author and book coaching … call in to Judith’s Author Monday Mornings at NOON Eastern each Monday. The number is 218-632-9854; Access Code 1239874444 … have your questions ready–there’s a full hour to ask and listen.