What's an ISBN or EAN? Why do I need one? Why is my ISBN already in use? Where do I get an ISBN? Answers to these questions and more are included in this article.
Independent publishers and authors are responsible for acquiring ISBNs or EANs for their books. An ISBN/EAN is needed for books sold through Ingram's Global Distribution Channels.
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 title.
A published book will have a different ISBN or EAN for each product type—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.
If located outside the United States you can visit https://www.isbn-international.org/ to find out where to purchase an ISBN/EAN.
- You can purchase ISBNs from Bowker, the US ISBN Agency (myidentifiers.com). Check their website for current pricing.
- You can purchase ISBNs through your IngramSpark account, for $85 each, when setting up your book and you will own the ISBN. ISBNs purchased through IngramSpark are non-refundable.
- Obtain a free ISBN from IngramSpark when setting up your new title. Please note the following stipulations when using the free ISBN:
- The imprint will be listed as Indy Pub
- Any title with a free ISBN must be placed in our wholesale distribution program
- ISBN cannot be transferred to another account in the future
- ISBN cannot be used on any other publishing platforms
- Pricing for at least one distribution market is required and the book will be available for sale through each market pricing is provided for
- If you use a free ISBN and later decide you want to own the ISBN, you will have to set up the book as a new or revised title and purchase a different ISBN for the book
- Promo codes cannot be used in conjunction with a free ISBN (Example: promo codes for free title setup)
Be sure to use the same ISBN/EAN for your book in all markets. Listing the same book with different ISBNs or EANs on multiple websites or with multiple distributors may confuse retailers and consumers wanting to purchase your book.
When setting up a new title, if you enter an ISBN and receive the message "ISBN Not Valid" you can enter the ISBN in this checker to determine if it is valid or invalid: https://www.isbn-check.com/
SKU (stock keeping unit) is an identification code, usually alphanumeric, of a product that allows it to be tracked for inventory purposes. If you don't want your book available for sale through Ingram's global distribution network, IngramSpark can assign a free inventory code (SKU) to your book for printing and manufacturing purposes. When setting up your title you can select “Click here if you would like a non-distributable SKU to be assigned to this title”.
You will also need to upload the cover and interior files. You can then have IngramSpark Support cancel the title with the SKU if you wish.