What's an ISBN and Should a Self-Publisher Get One?

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What's an ISBN and Should a Self-Publisher Get One?

Many self-publishing companies include providing an ISBN in their self-publishing services or allow the self-publisher the option of providing the ISBN.

The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a number that uniquely identifies each book. It's been called the “social-security number for books.” To ensure its uniqueness, ISBN numbers can only be obtained from one source, R.R. Bowker.

The owner of the ISBN is the official publisher of the book. As the official publisher, the owner of the ISBN is the only company who can

  • submit the book for reviews and awards

  • update publisher information on Amazon.com or BN.com

  • get a book carried by a distributor or wholesaler

Self-publishing service companies suggest they can save you the time and expense of requesting ISBN numbers from Bowker. But to have another company own your book's ISBN number is to relinquish control over too many important aspects of your book's future.

Go to R.R. Bowker's website, www.isbn.org and request your ISBN numbers. The request process is simple and it's worth the price!



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Carma Spence-Pothitt