Welcome to your ISBN mini playbook.
Every week, our self-publishing coaches hop onto Live Q&A coaching calls to tackle the most common self-publishing questions and challenges. Our team also regularly monitors our growing private Facebook group of over 30k self-publishers from all over the world, where students swap their personal stories, hold each other accountable, and discover new ways to scale their publishing business.
Here’s a question we get a lot: "Does my book bundle need a new ISBN?"
The answer is yes! Every new book product needs a new ISBN, but we'll break down the reason in this blog post.
An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique identifier for books. They’re a global standard within the publishing industry and are required for each unique work. You’ll usually find them above or below the barcode on the back of a book. Think of it like your book's driver's license or passport.
There aren’t that many compliance rules associated with ISBNs. Basically, each individual book, regardless of its format (paperback, audiobook, eBook), requires its own ISBN, but you get to decide where to purchase or download the ISBN from. When books are packaged together as a bundle, this new product also requires its own separate ISBN because it's considered unique.
Pro Tip: There aren’t any renewal fees associated with ISBNs, but you can ONLY USE EACH ISBN ONCE. You also cannot buy them and resell them to others. Anyone who’s trying to resell ISBNs to you is either scamming you or putting your publishing business at risk.
Here are a few reasons why ISBNs make the publishing world go ‘round:
Pro Tip: Platforms like Amazon’s KDP automate all the tracking for you so you can sell your books and access your reports 24/7. They’ll even provide you with a free ISBN for your product, with the only catch being that it’s Amazon-exclusive. If you want to push your book through other book aggregators and publishers, you'll have to purchase a universal ISBN.
Getting a new ISBN for a book bundle is a straightforward process. You can buy them through various national and international agencies or marketplaces like Bowker (which is our personal favorite at the moment and what we teach all of our AIA students to use).
Pro Tip: Buy in bulk!!! You CAN buy single ISBNs, but you’ll end up paying an insane markup. ISBNs don’t have expiration dates, and there are no renewal fees, so if you think there’s even a chance that you want to publish more than one book, it’s worth it to do the 10+ packs.
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