How To Get An ISBN For Your Book (And 3 Reasons Why You Need One)

You probably have heard the term ISBN thrown around in book publishing. You know that it is some number associated with your book, but you may not know precisely what it is or why you need it.

ISBNs are numbers uniquely identifying books that booksellers, libraries, and publishers use to locate a particular title. If you're planning on publishing your book, you'll need to get one as soon as possible.

Here's everything you need to know about ISBNs and how to get one for your book.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

What is an ISBN?

Most authors who are new to publishing have heard of it but aren't quite sure what they are.

An ISBN is a ten or thirteen-digit number unique to your book and is used to identify your title when it is listed for sale. This is separate from your book's title and other identifying information like the author's name or publisher. The numbers indicated are essential for anyone who wants to buy or sell your book.

ISBNs were established between 1966 and 1967 to help booksellers, libraries, and publishers keep track of books. Before, each publisher used its unique numbering system, making it challenging to track titles across different publishers.

Over 200 countries use the ISBN system today, making it the world's most widely used book identification system.

How and what do you need to get an ISBN?

Some websites offer to sell you an ISBN. One of them happens to be Bowker. Bowker has a platform called, which helps you get an ISBN easily.

Amazon also offers to help you get an ISBN for free if you publish your book through their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. This is a great platform for those on a budget, especially if you are to self-publish your book. However, the catch is that you can't publish your book on other platforms such as Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

If you plan to publish your book through other channels, you'll need to get an ISBN from a different source, such as Bowker.

Bowker offers as low as $125 for one ISBN to $1500 for a thousand ISBN Numbers. The ISBN is then registered to you and becomes your property. You can use that same number on all future editions of your book.

When purchasing an ISBN, you must provide basic information about your books, such as the title, author name, and publisher name. Once you have acquired one, it is assigned to your book and cannot be used for any other publication.

You must include the ISBN on the copyright page and your other book information if you publish your book. If you use a publishing service, they will usually take care of this for you.

This is integral to your book's metadata and is used by retailers, libraries, and other book industry professionals to find and identify your book. Make sure to include it on your book's copyright page!

Do you need an ISBN for an e-book?

Books published online, such as e-books, also need an ISBN. The same rules apply to e-books for print books—you must register with your country's ISBN Agency and purchase one.

When listing your e-book for sale, you must include the ISBN in the metadata. This is typically done by the retailer or publishing platform. If you're selling your e-book on your website, you must include this in the book's metadata, such as on the copyright page.

Three reasons why you need an ISBN

In addition to writing the book, several other important considerations, such as formatting, design, and marketing. However, one of the most critical steps in publishing is obtaining an ISBN.

Here are three reasons why you need one for your book:

1. Most retailers require ISBNs.

If you want to sell your book in stores or online, you'll need an ISBN. That's because retailers use these to track inventory and place orders. This helps your book be available for sale in brick-and-mortar stores, online retailers, or libraries.

2. They make your book easy to find.

When potential readers search for books on a particular topic, the ISBN will help ensure that your book appears in the search results. This is because these are used in library catalogs and book databases.

Ensure to include keywords in your book's metadata because this is how potential readers will find your book.

3. ISBNs increase the professional appearance of your book.

Including the ISBN on your book's cover and copyright, the page adds a level of professionalism that will instill confidence in potential readers. It does this by signaling that you've taken the necessary steps to publish your book according to industry standards.


If you’re an author serious about marketing your work, you must have an ISBN. Authors often overlook this little-known information, but it can make a difference when it comes time to sell your book.

At, we aim to help authors with what they need to know to get their books published and in front of readers.

So don’t hesitate to reach out at – we have a team of experts who would be more than happy to assist you on your journey towards bestselling status. Contact us today!