ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and it is a unique number assigned to all distributed books.
I should start out by saying that you don’t necessarily have to buy your ISBN’s. If you publish your paperbacks through Createspace for example you can choose to have a free one or you can use your own.
However, if you want to sell your book anywhere you need to have an ISBN assigned to it. Every version of your book requires a unique ISBN, for example the hardback would require a different number to the paperback. However most ebook distributors no longer require you to assign an ISBN to an ebook, although you can if you want to. Ebooks on Amazon are given an ASIN number.
The ISBN is broken down into segments which refer to different parts of the identification of a book (see picture below) and one of these is allotted to the publisher. If you are self-publishing this would be you and you will need to come up with a business name to publish under. (See my previous post here for details of that). This is how Three Shires Publishing was born. I recommend that whatever name you come up with you put into Google first as I was surprised by how many names I had to discard as they were already taken.
You may be offered an ISBN as part of a publishing package if you are using a company to help you bring your book together but if you are truly self-publishing then you are better off getting your own.
As my workshops are UK based I am writing this from that perspective so to buy your ISBN’s here you would go to the Nielsen UK ISBN Agency. They have an informative website with plenty of useful information. To register your publisher name with them and to buy 10 ISBN’s, which I’d recommend, will cost you £149 (including VAT) at the time of writing this.
I initially went with the free ISBN’s but when I did the second editions of my first two books and released the third one I bought them instead.
Publishers in the UK and Ireland have a legal obligation to send one copy of each of their publications to the British Library Legal Deposit Office within one month of publication. One copy should be deposited to the British Library; the other deposit libraries may then each request a copy.
Publications should be sent to:
Legal Deposit Office
The British Library
Wetherby LS23 7BY
Tel: +44 (0)1937 546 268
Fax: +44 (0)1937 546 176
The Agent for the Legal Deposit Libraries – see contact details below – is responsible for acquiring legal deposit material for these libraries:
The Bodleian Library, Oxford
The University Library, Cambridge
The National Library of Scotland
The Library of Trinity College, Dublin
The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth
Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries
Edinburgh EH9 1PH
Tel: +44 (0)131 623 4680
Fax +44 (0)131 623 4681
When you have complied with Legal Deposit you can put this in your books: –
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
If you buy your ISBN you will get a request through for Legal Deposit pretty quickly upon publication and if you get it through for the other five libraries as well that can come as a surprise. I had to send off 18 books in one go so it’s a good idea to stagger your publication dates!