Author’s Guide: ISBNs for eBook and Print

Yes, you need one…or two.

I used to think ISBNs were a lot like social security numbers – one book had one number to identify it from all the others, and that was that. A lot of emerging authors are under this impression as well, and they become unpleasantly surprised when they find out the truth: you’ll likely need more than just that one $125 ISBN.


According to the International ISBN Agency, every format of a book you sell must have its own ISBN. So, if you print a book in paperback and hardback, you’ll require two separate ISBNs. This goes for eBook formats as well. Most eBooks require at least two formats (Kindle and ePub), and you’ll need separate ISBNs for each of these as well. If in two years you create a new edition of the book, that will require another ISBN.

The good news? Your eBook may not require an ISBN…


When your eBook doesn’t require an ISBN

If you only plan on selling your eBook on Kindle/Amazon and at your own website, you don’t require ISBNs for those copies. Kindle has its own tracking system, the10-digit ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number).

When you your eBook does require an ISBN

  1. If you don’t want “Kindle Direct Publishing”, etc., listed as your publisher.
  2. You want to sell on other platforms, such as Nook and iPad.

The good news? Buying ISBNs is pretty simple.

Purchasing ISBNs in the U.S. isn’t a terribly difficult process. All ISBNs in the U.S. are registered through Bowker (find them at Luckily, they sell ISBNs in bulk…

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1 ISBN – $125

10 ISBNs – $295

100 ISBNs – $575

1000 ISBNs – $1500

For the average author, DeviancePress recommends you buy a package of 10. Although you may only use five for your latest novel, you can save the extras for future editions, or future works.

DeviancePress currently offers discounted ISBNs for authors who sign up for any of our services. For more information, contact us.

2 thoughts on “Author’s Guide: ISBNs for eBook and Print

  1. Kenna says:

    Ok, mind blown. I know this might sound ignorant, especially from someone who wants to be in the field, but I did not know that you needed multiple ISBNs, let alone purchase them for yourself. I also am ashamed to admit that I never thought that they had much importance except for helping me find the book I needed. Kristen I love your blog. I have so much important/relevant information. It really is shaping up to be a great place for aspiring publishers/writers to learn some of the basic ins and outs of the publishing world. I can’t wait to see what else you cover this quarter.

    • Kristen says:

      Thank you, Kenna! So glad you’re finding it useful. The world of publishing looks simple from the outside, but gets pretty complicated once you’re ready to actually get the book out there. Thanks for reading!

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