Day 17: The 30-Day Book Launch Challenge

ISBNs and Publisher Names

DAY 17. Week Four: Mon. 11 Dec. to Fri 15 Dec.

What has to be done by the end of this week?

Publishing. Order any ISBNs needed.

At this point I need to decide:

  • Whether to order any ISBNs for the print formats of my cozy mysteries. It can take a few weeks for the numbers to be delivered in the post and there is a holiday week coming up.
  • If I want to create a new publisher name when I publish these mysteries.

What is an ISBN?

The ISBN—which stands for International Standard Book Number—is the unique identity code for your book in the world. The thirteen-digit number code identifies the title, edition, format, binding, and publisher of any given format of a work.

So ideally you should have a separate ISBN for a printed book, audiobook, graphic novel and each type of digital format: Kindle, ePub and PDF etc.

There is no legal requirement in the UK or Republic of Ireland for an ISBN and it conveys no form of legal or copyright protection. It is a product identification number.

Do you need an ISBN for your eBook?

The answer to this depends on which online bookstore you want to sell your eBook, but generally speaking no, you don’t.

All internet booksellers need some way of identifying your eBook, so if you don’t have your own ISBN then they will assign your book a company code so that it can be ordered and tracked online.


Where your eBook will be sold Do they require an ISBN before an eBook can be accepted?
Your own Website No. You are in control of your content and don’t need a tracking or ordering system.
Amazon No. An ISBN is not required to publish eBook content with Kindle Direct Publishing. The KDP website says that will assign it a 10-digit ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number), which is unique to the eBook, and is an identification number for the Kindle Book on all Amazon stores worldwide.
Kobo The Kobo Writing Life Guidelines make it clear that an ISBN is not compulsory but strongly recommended if you want Kobo to supply other online digital book sellers around the world, since other companies do require one.

They will give you an eISBN.

Smashwords Not compulsory but required if you want Smashwords to supply other online digital book sellers in their Premium Catalogue.

The full guidance is HERE.

Apple iBookstore Not compulsory. ‘Although an ISBN is optional for books listed on iBooks, they’re good to have for sales and charting purposes. An ISBN is what’s used to report your book’s sales to industry reporting agencies, as well as for national and international charts.’ Full details HERE.


Do you need an ISBN for your Print Book?

Yes. The ISBN is a compulsory sales tool if you intend to make a printed version of your book available in bookstores and other suppliers, as it is the one single identifier for your book in all industry-wide book tracking and ordering systems.

An ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a unique 10- or 13-digit number assigned to every published book. An ISBN identifies a title’s edition, publisher, and physical properties such as trim size, page count, and binding type.

How are ISBNs used?

Bookstores, retailers, and libraries identify books by their ISBNs. Createspace and other print on demand companies print an ISBN barcode on the lower back right corner of every book they print.

There are two main ISBN options

  1. Use a FREE ISBN allocated by the print on demand platform that you are using for your book.

CreateSpace and most other print on demand platforms offer you a FREE ISBN for printed books. They will then be registered as the publisher of this book.

Many authors use this free option. Readers don’t seem to mind.

This ISBN can only be used with books printed by that Publishing Platform – so you cannot use it to print copies in a local printing firm for example.

 Buy Your Own ISBNs

Come up with a name of your publishing company and buy a bundle of ISBNs from your local official supplier for that publishing company.

ISBNs are not free and you may need to purchase of bundle of 10 numbers or more. So it is always a good idea to consider how many more books you are likely to be publishing in the future before investing in a bundle of codes.

When you buy an ISBN, you are registering yourself as the publisher of your eBook. The registering body will ask for the name of the publisher for their records.

So you should carefully consider what name you are going to give to your publishing company before you register and order the ISBNs. 

For example; I publish my non-fiction work under the company name NinaHarringtonDigital. But I could have chosen any name I liked which was suitable for the genre and type of book I am publishing. This is the name you will use for your tax report and on Amazon Author Central.

The MetaData

You will need to have all of the data for your book available.

This is called the ‘metadata’ and includes the title, name of the author, name of the publisher, the size of the book, such as 5 x 8 inches or 6 x 9 inches and binding type [paperback,hardback, diary, board book etc.], date of publication, the book description, the number of pages in the books and keywords about the book.

These all go into the central database and are available to anyone who wants to order your print book, including on Amazon.

The good news is that you have already done all of this for your Kindle book, so you can copy and paste.

There is one extra piece of information needed for print books– the BISAC code for the category this book falls into. Such as fiction, mystery, cozy etc. There is drop down list to help you select the best fit.

How do you buy an ISBN?

There are over 160 ISBN Agencies worldwide.

In the U.S.A: Bowker.

  1. Nielsen.

And in Australia, Thorpe-Bowker:

National Library of New Zealand.

Canada Publishers based in Canada can get an ISBN number from Library and Archives Canada for free.

More information about ISBNs can be found at the following website:

You should allow at least 7 working days for the codes to arrive in the post.

Then you have to allocate one ISBN to each book and tell the agency all of the metadata for that book so that they can record the details in their databases.

In the UK you are required to supply, free of charge, copies of your print book for the British Library and other state libraries.

My conclusions?

Publisher Name. I am going for ‘Kingsmede Publishing.’

ISBN. At this point I am going for the free ISBN option.

Happy reading and have a great weekend! Nina