An ISBN (International Standard Book Number), also known as EAN (European Article Number), is a unique thirteen-digit item code provided by your country’s ISBN agency and assigned by publishers to identify the format and edition of a particular title. A published book will usually have three different ISBNs—one for the hardcover edition, one for the paperback edition, and one for the digital/ebook edition. Retailers and distributors require published titles to have an ISBN/EAN assigned to them for sales and inventory purposes.
Independent publishers and authors in the US are responsible for acquiring ISBNs for their books by purchasing them from Bowker, the US ISBN Agency (www.myidentifiers.com); if located in the US, you can also purchase ISBNs through IngramSpark for $85 each by selecting “Click here if you would like to purchase an ISBN (an ISBN is required for distribution)”, during the title set up process. Bowker sells a single ISBN for $125, 10 ISBNs for $295, or 100 ISBNs for $575; therefore, it’s always advisable to purchase ISBNs in bulk, unless you are certain that you will use only one to three ISBNs for the entirety of your publishing career. ISBNs purchased through IngramSpark are non-refundable. As the publisher, you will own the ISBN.
Be sure to use the same ISBN for your book in all sales channels. Listing the same book with different ISBNs on multiple distributors may confuse retailers and consumers trying to purchase your book.
In many countries, such as Canada, ISBNs are provided for free by the government but it varies from country to country. Publishers from countries outside of the US should research where to obtain an ISBN specific for your country. For more information on where to purchase an ISBN in other countries, please visit https://www.isbn-international.org/
IngramSpark can assign a free custom item code (SKU) to your book for printing purposes if you do not intend to distribute your book through Ingram; just select “Click here if you would like a non-distributable SKU to be assigned to this title”, during the title set up process.