ISBN numbers for your book can be one of the most confusing and nerve-wracking decisions to make when self-publishing a book. In today’s video, I’m going to try and help you answer the question “Should I buy an ISBN for my book”. So, stick around:
Hey everybody, Keith Wheeler here, and if you want to continue to get hints, tips and tricks on how to make self-publishing easier to navigate, then be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit your bell icon so you can get alerted each and every time I put out new content.
First of all, what is an isbn? An ISBN or International Standard Book Number, is your books unique identifier. Think of it like a social security number for your book. It identifies that specific version of book for that specific format. What does that mean? Here, let me use my book, Please don’t beg as an example. This is a 6×9 paperback book. Here is the isbn number. Now, if I decided to make a hardcover version of this book, I would need a separate ISBN for that new book as it is now a new version of the book.
In addition, let’s say that through my book reviews, I see that readers would really like a bigger version of my self-published book. So I go in and create an 8.5 by 11 version of this book. That’s another isbn and of course, if I decide to make a hardcover version of the new book, yep, that’s another isbn that I would need to get.
Now, I’m not telling you this to scary you away from buying an isbn for your book. In fact, there are numerous scenarios that would make buying your own isbn for your book a smart idea. I just want to make sure you understand what an isbn is and why you need an isbn for your book. It should be noted that as of the recording of this video which is May 2018, you do NOT need an isbn for ebooks.
So when should you buy an isbn? If your plan is to try and get your book in brick and mortar stores, many self-published authors have found this easier if you buy your own isbn. When you buy your isbn, you can set the publisher name instead of the default Createspace or Amazon publishing that you’ll get when you select the free options. Some indie authors feel that this makes their books look more professional.
For most self-publish authors who are focused mainly on selling their books online, the free isbns that createspace, kdp and lulu.com offer work just fine.
Personally, I have my children’s books in numerous bookstores without having purchased an isbn for any of my books. While it did take me some time to find these bookstores and reach out to them to see if they’d carry my self-published books, I cannot say one way or the other if the process was easier or harder than if I had bought my own isbns.
Currently, in the US, ISBNs can be bought through Bowker and are $125. Also, you can get discounts if you buy in bulk.
In the end, the final decision on whether you should buy an isbn for your indie book or not is completely up to you as the author, based on your goals for the book and budget. If you do decide to buy an isbn for your self-publish book, I suggest you plan ahead and figure out how many isbns you would need for all of the different formats so you can get the benefits of buying in bulk.
Let me know in the comments below whether you’re going to go with the free isbns or buy your own isbn for your book. Also, if you have any questions or ideas for future videos, drop that in the comments below. Until next time, I’m Keith Wheeler and remember to Write Right!