ISBN Lookup

The Ultimate Guide To ISBN Numbers

isbn lookupOne of the questions we get asked the most is this: “Do I need an ISBN number and if so, how do I get one?” I’ll answer that question (and more) in this blog post. 

What Is An ISBN #?

ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number” and it’s a number that uniquely identifies your book. Every book is unique and no book shares an ISBN number with any other book. While ISBN numbers definitely look like a barcode, it’s not, it’s simply a number that identifies a specific book.

ISBN Lookup

You can find a book by an ISBN lookup by searching an advanced Amazon page below:

ISBN Lookup Amazon

Does A Self Publisher Need An ISBN Number?

So we established that an ISBN number is a unique number that is used to specifically identify the title of books. It’s for print books, audio books, and digital eBooks as well. The ISBN # not only identifies the specific book title, but also the book publisher or the fact that it was self published.

Book Publishers and book stores like to use ISBN numbers to track sales and orders, as well as an easy way to order more books.

Can There Be Multiple ISBN Numbers For 1 Book Title? – Yes absolutely. Each version of your book will need it’s own ISBN number. For example, if you had a print book, audio version of the same book, and the digital book (like on the Kindle, iBooks, and Nook), you would need 3 ISBN numbers, one for each version of your book.

In addition, you will need a separate ISBN number for each language your book is written in.

If you update your book to a new edition, you’ll also need to get a new ISBN number. This would only be for major new edition updates, not small changes or corrections.

Do You Need An ISBN For Kindle eBooks?

Good news! If you are just self publishing your Kindle book, (don’t forget to use our easy Kindle Template!) you will NOT need to buy an ISBN number. In fact, you don’t need an ISBN at all. Amazon does not require it. Instead, Amazon will assign a 10 digit ASIN (Amazon Standard ID) number that will identify your book.

Do You Need An ISBN To Self Publish On Apple iBooks?

No, just like the Amazon Kindle, you do not need an ISBN number to publish your book on iBooks. Apple will assign your book a unique number for their iBooks system.

Do You Need An ISBN To Publish On The Nook?

Nope! Like the Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks, you also don’t need an ISBN to self publish your book on the Nook. Barnes & Noble will assign your book a unique identifier number that is called a BNID.

Should You Buy Your Own ISBN Number Or Use The Publisher’s?

So if you have a book that will be published in print, you will need an ISBN number. You can buy them at but they are not cheap! As of April of 2014, here are their current prices for ISBN Numbers:

  • 1 = $125
  • 10 = $295
  • 100 = $575
  • 1000 = $1000

HOWEVER: I usually just use the ISBN number that my publisher gives me which is absolutely FREE! The ISBN is primarily used to identify the publishing company anyway, and using your publisher’s ISBN is standard practice and you still retain the full copyright of your book and can have your book with multiple publishers or self publish as well so there really is no downside.

If you are self publishing, you can use Createspace and they will give you an ISBN # absolutely free and create inexpensive print versions of your book for you. They are awesome and I highly recommend them. Also, if you didn’t know, Createspace is owned by Amazon so they are very reputable.

Where Do I Put My ISBN Number?

If you purchased your own ISBN number, it’s best to put it on the back cover of the book and on the copyright page as well. If you publish with Createspace, they will place your ISBN barcode on your book for you.

To summarize, if you are just publishing your book on the Kindle, iBooks, and Nook, you do NOT need an ISBN number at all.

Watch my ISBN Lookup video below:

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