What is an ISBN?

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number – it’s a global system where every single book published has its own unique number.

Do I need an ISBN?

NO if ¬†you’re:

  • only publishing an eBook on certain platforms (eg Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble)
  • publishing eBooks or printed books privately for your own private use or to give to friends/family, but not list for sale

YES if you’re:

  • distributing your eBook to certain platforms (eg Apple iBooks)
  • publishing a printed book for sale

How do I get an ISBN?

Two ways. PRIVATELY from Thorpe-Bowker Australia. The Australian prices are AUD$44 for 1, AUD$88 for 10, AUD$480 for 100 or AUD$3,035 for 1,000.

FREE from various distribution platforms, such as and Smashwords, when you publish your book through them.

What’s the catch with free ISBNs?

With free ISBNs, the distribution platform will list itself as the publisher. This does not affect your copyrights or royalties or any other rights in any way.

Do I need separate ISBNs for print and eBooks?


Do I need separate ISBNs for each kind of eBook (ePub, mobi, pdf)

No. Bowker – who sells ISBNs – says yes, but you can ignore this. Every third party platform is fine with your eBook having the same ISBN.


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