Adding an ISBN to your book? Blurb barcode explained

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pin it button Adding an ISBN to your book? Blurb barcode explained

As some of you know, a number of our books have a production barcode on the back cover. While this barcode can affect all trim sizes in both hardcover and softcover, it does not appear on all books. Some of our printers use these to track our books, while others use different methods.

Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee which books will get the barcode. Once you place an order and your book gets uploaded into our system, it gets routed to printers based on book size, hardcover or softcover, ship-to address, and capacity at individual printers. That means your book could go to any of our printers. So, it’s best to plan for the barcode in case your book gets routed to another printer that requires one.

Confused? We can help. For those of you concerned about the barcode running into your ISBN or important content, here’s how to plan for it. We’ve created a diagram that outlines the safe area for adding your own ISBN onto your back cover; if you follow this guide you won’t have to worry about Blurb’s barcode overlapping your ISBN.

You can click on all of the images below for larger views.

In the diagram below, avoid the red area if you plan to add an ISBN or important content on the back of your book.
picture 1 Adding an ISBN to your book? Blurb barcode explained
White box (inside red area) = Current Blurb barcode location
Red area = Unsafe area for ISBN and any important content
*Red area represents all trim sizes from midpoint to spine of book

This diagram shows the specific measurements of the barcode represented by the white box, and where it can fall on the back cover.
picture 2 Adding an ISBN to your book? Blurb barcode explained
In the diagram below, green marks the safe area for your ISBN (or any other important information such as URLs, addresses, and the like).

picture 3 Adding an ISBN to your book? Blurb barcode explained

White box = Current Blurb barcode location
Green area = No Blurb code placed here. Safe for user ISBN code
Grey box = Detailed measurements below
picture 4 Adding an ISBN to your book? Blurb barcode explained
Although we confess this is not a perfect solution, we’re confident that you can safely avoid a collision with an ISBN and a printer barcode if you follow these suggestions.

Here are some examples of ISBN placement on back of traditional books:
picture 5 Adding an ISBN to your book? Blurb barcode explained

I hope you find this helpful.

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  1. That’s nice but automated distributors want the ISBN where the BLURB barcode goes. Barnes and Noble for sure won’t sell a book with the blurb barcode in the ISBN location.

    By Sam
      March 18, 2008 – 12:52 am   Permalink
  2. This is a timely article, but I have tried several times to position my barcode to no avail. I am using one of the standard softcover templates. I need more instruction and/or suggestions.

    By Ann
      March 18, 2008 – 2:41 pm   Permalink
  3. Ann,
    In order to set your barcode in the above fashion, you will need to use a cover template that has a full bleed image container on it. If you intend to have an image on your back cover, you will need to integrate your barcode file into your image file. The easiest way to do that is to size your photoshop file to the exact size of the image container (see container rollover for that info) Then drop in your image file, and on top of that layer, drag in your barcode graphic. Make sure it has a white background square behind it if it does not. Next locate the barcode file left of the center line and at least 1/2 inch up from the bottom edge and no closer than 1 inch from the left hand edge (see above graphic). When you are happy with the placement, flatten your image and save it as a .jpeg file. Now drag your back cover image into the large image container.

    I hope this follow up helps.

      March 18, 2008 – 3:33 pm   Permalink
  4. Hi Sam,

    We’ll certainly look into your comment about Barnes and Noble. We certainly want to make this process easy and workable for everyone especially for those wanting to go the full-on distribution route.

    Thanks for your comments.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      March 19, 2008 – 9:46 am   Permalink
  5. If you know what printers put on the bar code, would we be able to request NO BAR CODE ?
    I really do not want a bar code on my books, they are for display and not for sale.

      March 20, 2008 – 5:28 pm   Permalink
  6. Hi Jette,

    If you’re in Europe, there’s a pretty good chance that your book will not have a barcode. That said, depending on your book size, hardcover or softcover preference, ship-to address, and capacity at individual printers, your book could go to any of our printers, so best to plan for it. Otherwise, at this time, you cannot request a no-barcode option.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      March 20, 2008 – 5:56 pm   Permalink
  7. Kathy-
    when will you know about the process for those who want to do the full-on distribution? I’d like to arrange book signings locally.

      April 15, 2008 – 10:34 am   Permalink
  8. Judith,

    As I mentioned, we will look into it, so there’s no specific date I can give you. We are constantly reviewing priorities and figuring out new BookSmart and website features. That said, some of that figuring will necessitate some research into barcodes and distribution.

    You might want to check out our Forums and post your question to see what others have done to work around this.

    Hope this helps.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      April 15, 2008 – 10:48 am   Permalink
  9. Hi –

    I recently had several reprints done of a book I have had previously printed with no barcode – now the new ones have the barcode on it. I use these as books for wedding clients and they will find the barcode completely unacceptable. I had always been paired with a facility that didn’t do this so how do I get back to using this facility? I am also noticing that the printer that uses the barcodes also shows banding in the printing of solid image areas-
    Customer service has been less than helpful with this issue – who do i need to speak to to have it taken care of?

    By Corbin Gurkin
      April 18, 2008 – 4:47 pm   Permalink
  10. Hi Corbin,

    As stated in this post, we cannot guarantee which printer prints your book, hence the need to prep your book for the barcode. It’s not a great solution, but it’s what we can offer at this time.

    As for your banding problem, please contact Order Support and someone will get back to you on Monday. We make good on all manufacturing errors and cannot handle one-off customer support questions in the blog.

    Hope that helps.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      April 18, 2008 – 5:59 pm   Permalink
  11. Hello-
    I have an art gallery that wants to pick up my book to sell. Is there any way for them to get a discounted rate so they can order directly from blurb instead of having me to consign them? As it is now they will have to pay the full price plus shipping to get them…that does not allow them any mark up for profit. I am new to all of this so I need some help here. Thanks, Michelle

    By Michelle
      April 20, 2008 – 8:08 pm   Permalink
  12. This info is helpful, but can you tell me how to keep the back cover the same solid background color as the front and insert my barcode over it or on it without any images on the back?

    I’ve tried the photoshop instructions with Adobe Illustrator, because I was told the ISBN barcode is not to be used with Photoshop. I keep getting a white background or have to select a background color to keep the barcode from being altered if I just insert it on the cover.

    By susan
      April 27, 2008 – 4:07 pm   Permalink
  13. I’m puzzled.

    It seems to me you have two sets of people
    (a) people who don’t want bar codes on their books
    (b) people who want bar codes for ISBN numbers in the place where convention (ie the book shops such as Barnes and Noble) dictate they should be.

    I don’t understand what’s the problem. Neilsen states “If you wish to sell your publication through major bookselling chains, or internet booksellers, they will require you to have an ISBN to assist their internal processing and ordering systems.”

    An ISBN barcode has therefore got to take precedence over a printers tracking code surely? How is a printers tracking code helping the person paying for the book?

    If, as suggested, the book distributors have a convention as to where the ISBN code goes then that’s where it has to go.

    Are some of the printers you are using ones which don’t normally print books for distribution and sale? Again Neilsen states “Most bookshops have now installed electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems, which enable them to keep track of their sales and to re-order books by scanning the barcode. Some retailers refuse to accept books that are not bar coded. Although the barcode will be derived from the ISBN, the agency does not issue them. Probably the best person to speak to about bar coding is your printer, who may have the software required to convert the ISBN into a barcode.”

    Why not just make sure that
    - all the books that don’t want bar codes get routed to the printers who don’t print bar codes?
    - all the people who do want their books to have bar codes have their books sent to printers who have the software to produce the bar code?

    By Katherine
      May 10, 2008 – 6:06 pm   Permalink
  14. As a professional, dealing with clients and designing books for them, it would be nice to have the option to NOT have a barcode and not have the ‘blurb’ end page as well. Unless you come up with that option, I will probably not be able to use your books.

    I like the comment by Katherine. You should give your customers a choice.

      May 30, 2008 – 9:05 am   Permalink
  15. Hi Braedon,

    We know that the barcode can be problematic for some of our customers, hence this post on a workaround. Katherine has some nice ideas, and if we could offer them right now, you better believe we would. We are constantly working with our print partners to help evolve POD and the production of our books. How we track books may very well change, but for now, if you follow the post, you can easily work around the barcode.

    Also, you can change out the Blurb end page by using our Custom Logo Upgrade option. For a small fee, you can remove the logo and replace it with one of your own.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      May 30, 2008 – 9:49 am   Permalink
  16. I agree the barcode needs to be addressed and made into an option to have it or not have it. I understood that it will either be on the back cover or the back inside page. It appeared on both places on my order. On the back cover it was more or less at the center bottom (which is different than depicted in your graphic) and on the inside back page on the far left, but turned vertically. This is very distracting and looks very unprofessional.
    Also, we need to be able to get duplicate orders printed and not hope that they look the same on the next order.

    By Michael
      May 30, 2008 – 12:19 pm   Permalink
  17. This is an amazing fail! Blurb is such a brilliant idea, and is otherwise so well done, that it is sad to see it defeated by a stupid supply chain bug – a lack of communication with the vendors. You are printing some of the most beautiful books here, how did it not occur that some people might like to sell them at retail outlets?

    As it stands, I want to print books for display only, and being forced to allow a lame barcode on the back cover of my book completely kills it, and therefore, prohibits me from using your service. And I’m not willing to just ‘gamble’ and hope that I get to be the lucky one without a barcode.

    This is so sad, I was just about to start working with your software to produce some books, as it is, I will have to find another service. Here’s to hoping this issue can be resolved quickly, as I really did like the rest of your service!

    By Matthew Schultz
      June 1, 2008 – 11:40 pm   Permalink
  18. It would be a nice courtesy to let your customers know, up front, that there may be a barcode printed on their book-even if they pay to have the Blurb logo removed. I paid the EXTRA MONEY thinking that I would get a clean back cover. I feel that I was mislead by Blurb now that I have received a book with a barcode on both the last page and back cover. If it had been mentioned in the software, when I had made the book and opted NOT to have anything on those pages, I would not had ordered from Blurb. Barcodes look horrendous on a wedding album!

    By Tracy
      June 6, 2008 – 2:35 pm   Permalink
  19. I’ve got to agree with what I’ve just read here, specifically Tracy just above me. I just ordered my first Blurb book, and was extremely happy with the outcome, all until seeing the barcode on the back cover. I was just about to order a set of 10 of these books, but now I’m going to go look into other services. I too feel mislead by the fact that this wasnt ever mentioned in the ordering process. I was prepared for a back page with the Blurb logo, but to cut into my nice, full bleed, glossy back cover image with an unnecessary (at least to me) barcode is so silly.


    By Mathieu
      June 17, 2008 – 2:35 pm   Permalink
  20. Hi, I really would love to use Blurb to layout and print my books. However, I require consistency of print and the ISBN Barcode issue for me is an essential part of the print process and my business requires CONVENTIAL ISBN barcoding.

    I am so dissapointed that this barcoding seems such a unworkable issue for Blurb to resolve, After all what good is a publishing tool if you can’t control the most fundamental part of the process… BOOK SALES.
    If Blurb are happy for home users to have such professionally designed books for home coffee tables use only and NOT shelves in book shops, then, this I see as a great failing.

    One solution to get around this printers code may be to print separate ISBN barcodes on sticky labels and affix over the print code? This dispense with the idea of integrating the code into the blurb book layout. A timely and unnecessary solution in my view but one that may be the most reliable in terms of getting the book to store.

    It looks like I shall have to keep using Coreldraw X3 for laying out books, exporting PDF’s and working directly with one-off digital printers for my proofing. Great shame as the potential time saving with blurbs integrated design and print system would have been excellent.

    Kenneth Martin

      June 21, 2008 – 2:59 am   Permalink
  21. I just received my first Blurb book and was taken by complete surprise by the black text on white “tracking number” block on my black background photo-wrap book. No where in the software did it tell me to expect this.

    The white box goes over some large font text that could have been positoned in the lower left-hand corner if I had been forewarned by a software symbol such as one finds when text does not fit into a text container.

    From reading the comments in this forum (found when looking up a phone number to call…which I couldn’t find), this seems to be a problem that Blurb needs to fix and fix soon.

    Larry McCracken

    By Larry McCracken
      July 8, 2008 – 11:27 am   Permalink
  22. I am also disappointed by the lack of mention of this when laying out the book, or clearly marked in other places. It didn’t show up on the first books I ordered, so it seemed safe to assume it wouldn’t show up on the second ones. It did, and in odd places and sometimes twice. One of them is totally centered (which actually looks better, but isn’t in the area this says it would be in).

    I’m very much looking forward to having a secure option between barcode and non-barcode printing.

      July 8, 2008 – 5:47 pm   Permalink
  23. I too am disappointed with being unable to request no barcode for my books. I just ordered 2 guest books and they arrived with barcodes both on the back of the book as well as on the last page. Wedding and portrait clients do not want an ugly barcode on their albums and guest books. I too will be looking for another printer unless you add the option to leave it off.

      July 17, 2008 – 2:11 pm   Permalink
  24. Canadian customers may be the exception to the rule at Blurb but I was wondering if anyone else has experienced lengthy unacceptable delays in receipt of their orders? I ordered four large format books which were produced and shipped apparently back on June 30th. I have been tracking the shipping progress since with USPS. Just today I have received a message that my order has only now crossed the border into Canada. That means it took USPS approximately fourteen days to get it from the Blurb manufacturing facility to the Canadian-US border.
    I like the Blurb concept however I may have to find an alternative domestic Canadian source.

    By Kevin Nash
      July 17, 2008 – 7:07 pm   Permalink
  25. I’m following the remarks closely about the bar code issue. I have a few questions. First: Can I add an ISBN number and bar code at anytime i.e reconfigure the back page and reprint.. Or, for that matter, can I revise anything for future editions and upload it to replace a previous edition. And secondly: Can you comment on the suggestion that the ISBN number and bar code can be printed on a stickly label and placed over your barcode.


      July 18, 2008 – 10:19 am   Permalink
  26. I ordered two different books (engagement & maternity) andI was very happy with the quality of the book while flipping through the pages until I got to the last page and back of book to find the barcode (twice) and one of the books have the barcode placed crooked. This looks really tacky on a black background

      July 19, 2008 – 9:43 am   Permalink
  27. I was surprised to find my first book to be bar coded without any warning. It is mostly for me but I would think that if they want your printing business and there is enough people wanting large volume along with the amount of people you host that it is simple. Removed the bar code or we don’t use you for printing our work. Business are slow right now I can’t see someone wanting to lose a print job like this because they won’t change. And you losing business because they won’t change, your customer have to change. Customers should not have to change or have to put up paying for something they don’t want. I love the layout but I have two other book makers that I can use, If I have to change because of it. Sorry!!!! Please change for us.

      July 22, 2008 – 9:08 am   Permalink
  28. Why does the Blurb barcode have to go on the back cover when it’s printed on the end page as well?

      July 22, 2008 – 9:50 am   Permalink
  29. So, how about it Blurb? Is this issue ever going to be resolved?

    By richard halliburton
      July 28, 2008 – 5:55 pm   Permalink
  30. Hi Richard
    We continually work with our print partners to streamline our POD process and, as Kathy mentioned, the way we track books may very well change. For now, however, the workaround — while far from perfect — is the most functional solution.

      July 29, 2008 – 4:01 pm   Permalink
  31. I want to be able to have an image on the front cover and an ISBN bar code image on the back along with the ISBN number. I don’t think there is a template that allows me to do that. Am I wrong?

      July 31, 2008 – 11:45 am   Permalink
  32. I also would suggest making the “barcode issue” more visible for people before they order their books. I had no idea there would be a barcode placed on the back and it covered up our company contact information. I would have designed it differently if I had known this would be an issue!

    By Shanae'
      August 1, 2008 – 1:04 pm   Permalink
  33. This issue should be published on your main page instead of being buried in a blog. Allowing your customers to learn about barcodes on their books after the fact is just plain sad on your part. Luckily I stumbled across this issue prior to publishing my book. Until this issue is fixed, I cannot gamble with your service.

    By Steve
      August 19, 2008 – 5:17 pm   Permalink
  34. I too agree that Blurb should be upfront about the possibility of an unsightly barcode being printed on orders. Had I known that I wouldn’t have two completely unusable books due to the bar code covering up back page text. Had I known, I would have either designed around that in the first place or looked for an alternate printer. It would be nice to be offered a refund for these.

    Additionally, my book has the bar code twice (back cover and last page). If it’s for tracking reasons why does it have to repeat? The back cover one is also smack in the middle bottom of the page (of my 7X7) making the above “design around” solution offered by Blurb, obsolete.

    By susan
      August 21, 2008 – 11:25 am   Permalink
  35. I too am sorry to learn of this problem only after placing my order. No where in the book set-up was it mentioned. Guess, I’ll just wait and see how mine turns out.

    By Jess
      August 21, 2008 – 12:18 pm   Permalink
  36. I just recently published my first book as a test. I was fairly disappointed to find a barcode right over my large full-bleed image of Buddha on the back cover. Since I didn’t see anything about a bar code during any of the setup or purchase process, I had assumed it was due to the fact that I made my book public.

    Now I’ve just found out that even on a private book, I will likely have this stupid barcode again, solely for the printers’ purposes. Unfortunately I found this information *after* I reuploaded and ordered another version of my book, with the same large Buddha image on the back cover.

    Now I will have to re-edit and re-upload before I buy 7 more copies of the book for my friends — what a pain! Earlier I wasn’t sure if I’d go with Blurb again for my future photobooks, but think that this silly barcode issue seals the deal for me. I’ll be going someplace else that can be a little more definitive and pro-active on this issue.

    By Irene
      September 6, 2008 – 2:52 pm   Permalink
  37. Your addition of a barcode on my last order, after my ordering a proof with none on it, is pure and simple fraudulent and false advertising. You lied to your consumer and now have a mess on your hands.
    You should provide a full refund, or at least a reprint with no barcode, technical issues aside, and at no cost to the customer, shipping included, because that is what i paid for, a book with no barcode. All explanations do not make up for you bate and switch which is in fact illegal.
    how more simple can I get.
    I hope you resolve this expeditiously
    you have lost me as a customer as of now.

      September 12, 2008 – 5:19 pm   Permalink
  38. Can you kindly explain clearly, and in English, HOW to get an ISBN number??? Thank you. – LG

      September 13, 2008 – 9:59 am   Permalink
  39. The blurb icon for the end page appears in the booksmart software and can’t be removed without paying for the upgrade. This is alright because you can pay not to have it and more importantly, the software shows that it is there so you know what to expect. The fact that there is no control over this tracking code is ridiculous…but it is an even greater misdeed that a first time customer has absolutely no way of expecting this code. Come on, it should show up in the booksmart software with a little rollover note or something. It is unimaginable that I could do the book preview and not see a large and obtrusive bar code on my back cover and end page. I was amazed when my first book arrived and there was something there that wasn’t included in the design or preview. Terrible business practice. Email me if you feel obligated to give me a refund…which you should. Not as advertised!! What is most amazing is I am positive that blurb is losing tons of business because of this. Only work with printers that are willing to adapt so that you can meet your customers needs. I hope Kathy and Reese and any other blurb representative who reads these comments is very vocal with the blurb decision makers. It is a great business that does almost everything perfectly and then drops the ball on something as silly as a tracking barcode. Fix it, and fix it fast.

    By Chad
      September 18, 2008 – 5:36 pm   Permalink
  40. Everyone,

    Please keep your comments coming! We are actively looking into better solutions for handling the necessary tracking information our barcode provides and your feedback – both bad and good – is incredibly important to us.

    Let me reiterate though, that if at any time you are unhappy with your printed book, be it a barcode problem or otherwise, please please please contact Customer Support. We really appreciate all feedback and suggestions, but we can’t reach out to you here in the blog on an individual basis. If you submit your problems directly through Customer Support, we will get back to you with suggestions, solutions, or otherwise.

    Again, thanks for the feedback.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      September 22, 2008 – 3:20 pm   Permalink
  41. I printed a few copies of one book but did not see the barcode on the back? What am I doing different?

      September 23, 2008 – 7:31 am   Permalink
  42. I see, now I read the post above. I have been getting the lucky books from a different printer.

      September 23, 2008 – 7:34 am   Permalink
  43. The barcode on the back cover (and the Blurb barcode on the inside cover) is so very disappointing. That is fine for personal use, but when using Blurb books for wedding albums, senior proofbooks, etc.. who wants a big ugly bar code on a full image bleed book?!! This needs to be fixed, please. Couldn’t the barcode be on the back inside cover or otherwise blank page? That would at least be better than the back cover!

    This was my first book ordered through Blurb, and I had a slight problem other than the barcode covering my company logo on the back, but they were helpful in fixing the situation. Thank you Blurb for the good customer service today, but PLEASE fix the barcode issue for us! :)

    By Jen Robertson
      September 23, 2008 – 3:27 pm   Permalink
  44. People make Blurb books for multiple purposes… some for general sale, some for showcasing personal work, some for friends and family, and some as products for clients. A highly visible bar code is acceptable for only ONE of these purposes (general sale). The bar code is unacceptable or unwanted for wedding products, commercial client products, showcasing personal photography work, family and friend books… basically everything I can think of except a medium to low end book for general sale. It also does not allow for fully showcasing an image on the back cover. Why isn’t there option to NOT have the bar code? It is very limiting to force this on clients.

      September 25, 2008 – 12:31 pm   Permalink
  45. Ditto, Ditto, Ditto. Didn’t see it coming and if the back blurb page CAN be printed in the LAYOUT, so can the barcode issue on a back cover LAYOUT page… does come across as fraudulent as most would NOT want it, so it was purposefully left off the layout page, hmmmm, the only explanation. Sorry to have come to that conclusion. An easy fix: updated layout of bar code page LAYOUT on back over.

      September 28, 2008 – 1:47 pm   Permalink
  46. This is very disappointing.
    Not trying to beat a dead horse here but I too have a hard time seeing why Blurb doesn’t lay down the line for the printers they are using. Surely a threat to cease bringing business to the printer would be effective.

    So does anyone know… Does Blurb consider the barcode to be a manufacturing error that they will be willing to correct? Can anyone provide a photo of what their barcode looked like? How bad is it? Thanks!!!

    By Luke
      October 7, 2008 – 10:56 am   Permalink
  47. Hi Kathy,

    This issue seems very interesting as I’m in the process of formatting two books.

    One of these books won’t have an image on the back cover and I expect to have a barcode on it so my clients can order the book from stores all over the world.

    But whose barcode is it?

    I understand that if I generate a barcode it will include my ISBN. Or will it be a Blurb barcode and what else can I expect on the back cover?

    Also, is the barcode printed inside the book, on your blank page with your logo. If so, that’s fine. As long as it’s not on my final page of images and text.

    Also, if I supply a barcode, will it actually be printed?

    As for those with a problem with the Blurb logo, I’m of the understanding that to download a pretty good program for nothing usually invoves a trade-off. And there is the paid option to get around this issue.

    Sorry, I’m just a little confused about the whole process.

      October 9, 2008 – 12:43 am   Permalink
  48. Oh… and just another thing that may be of interest.

    In Australia, and ISBN seems to be a good deal.

    You pay $50 to register as a new publisher
    A single ISBN # is $36.50
    And a block of ten is worth $76.00
    Barcodes can be produced for $42.00

    And this is in Aussie dollars – a bargain for you in the US or Europe.

    Search for: ISBN Australia for the details online.

      October 9, 2008 – 2:11 am   Permalink
  49. I am an American author. I wish to obtain an ISBN and know there are services that will create one for a fee, but I also know that this can apparently be done without a fee. Three questions:

    Does anyone know where I can do this without going through a service, or if impossible, which service out there offers the best deal?

    How can I then get the ISBN properly printed onto my Blurb book?

    Does Blurb offer an ISBN service?

    By Lawrence Blackflynn
      October 17, 2008 – 9:19 am   Permalink
  50. My ultimate goal is to purchase my ISBN around Jan5, 2009.

    My specific question is can I go ahead and publish my finished book on my Blurb page prior to obtaining my ISBN?

    Basically can I purchase my ISBN AFTER I publish my book on your site?



      October 21, 2008 – 12:52 am   Permalink
  51. Same question as Azaan Kamau above about purchasing an ISBN after the fact.

      November 3, 2008 – 11:15 am   Permalink
  52. I recently received an ISBN# and would like to add it to my book. Unfortunately, my computer crashed and I lost my XP Pro. After it was re-installed, my book was missing. Is there a way to retreive my book or is it lost forever? Can I install my ISBN # on the Blurb sale page? Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

    By John
      November 5, 2008 – 2:53 pm   Permalink
  53. I feel sorta ripped off about all of this. I printed a book about 6 months ago as a sample wedding proof book. Luckily I wasn’t giving it to a client but I paid $40 for it and when I received the book I had a barcode on the back and last page of my book. I love the quality the only problem I have is with this stupid barcode. I came back to see if the problem had been resolved and it seems that nothing is being done about this issue. I would really like to work with this company but I cant give a book to a client who paid $2,000 for wedding photography a book that has barcodes slapped all over it. I was wanting to order a book for my vacation and even for personal use I don’t want this. I am paying good money and your product is reliability useless. I hope that you can get this worked out so I can give you another try. Thanks.

    By Victoria Martin
      November 8, 2008 – 11:12 pm   Permalink
  54. Unlike some others I definitely want a barcode on the back of any book I produce, to sell through shops etc. Is there no guarantee that I will get a barcode? Surely a button allowing one to choose barcode or no barcode would be a good idea?

    By Adam Horovitz
      November 13, 2008 – 3:07 am   Permalink
  55. Does anyone know how the suggestions above vary for a 7×7 inch book? does it? Having an estimated inch to the side (if thats applies to all sizes) places the code somewhat close to the center for a 7×7.

    By Evan
      November 13, 2008 – 1:50 pm   Permalink
  56. I placed 2 separate book orders, one a softcover for vol1 and one a hardcover for vol2. I received my hardcover last week with a stick on label tracking code on the back. Great turnaround on printing and delivery of vol2. Very satisfied with the quality. However, my first book was delayed from the publisher so I got the second order first even though it was placed 4 days later. My question on ISBNs: Does blurb have a current status relative to ISBN placement? Is it still as outlined at the beginning of the thread?

    1. I purchased 2 ISBN numbers for placement on my 2 books for Thanksgiving release but I’m still a little confused as to whether the placement can really go in the location first outlined at the beginning of the message as a workround and be okay?

    Bottomline- Is there a current update or is the workaround still in place as the only option?


      November 17, 2008 – 3:31 pm   Permalink
  57. I’ve seen books with Bar Code Stickers over old bar codes. Why is this not a solution? Can you just print the barcode and place it over the printer’s barcode?

    By Denise Williams
      December 1, 2008 – 2:42 pm   Permalink
  58. I had logged in to complain about a barcode sticker on my book (that I am otherwise very happy with). After reading above, I see now that the sticker is probably preferable to a permanently printed barcode. My complaint about the barcode sticker was that even though the sticker read: “Please remove this easy to peel sticker to start enjoying your product,” the sticker left a very ugly sticky residue on the back cover right in the middle of the image. A sticker seems like a good solution, but why not place the sticker on the outside of the plastic wrapper instead of on the book cover itself?

    By Pennan Barry
      December 1, 2008 – 6:08 pm   Permalink
  59. Just curious about where the printers are that use the bar codes? I’m in Ontario, Canada, working on a 7×7 softcover. Should I expect a barcode? Also, are there any visual examples? I’m curious to know just how big these bar codes are.

    By Sandi Conrad
      December 2, 2008 – 7:46 am   Permalink
  60. PLEASE UPDATE ON PREMIUM PAPER OPTION ON BOOKS OVER 160 PAGES! When can we expect this upgrade?

    You REALLY HAVE TO OFFER THIS OPTION BY JAN ’09 as my 200+ page art book will be heading your direction for a trial print version very soon and I expect to make LOTS OF ORDERS as soon as the bugs are worked out . . . with respect to this issue and, of course, the BARCODE FIASCO seen in way too many prior posts.


    By Lorran
      December 18, 2008 – 3:51 pm   Permalink
  61. Just a comment on the ‘easy to remove’ sticker – while I appreciate that it’s better than something printed on the cover… mine was not ‘easy to remove.’ It was really stuck, and left a lot of glue behind. I’m hesitant to use something like ‘goo gone’ for fear it will damage the printed image.

    I know they actually make low-tack stickers, as many of the bookstores locally use them for price stickers and they come off with no residue. Suggest that a real low-tack sticker be used, or perhaps on the plastic cover as suggested by another client above.

    Other than that, I”ve ordered many books, and love this service.


      December 23, 2008 – 8:26 am   Permalink
  62. I ordered my ISBN number and barcode from Publisher Services They recommend not using Photoshop as it will automatically rasterize the image and may ruin the scannability of the barcode. They recommend; Adobe Illustrator,Adobe Pagemaker, Freehand. Microsoft Publisher
    (does not open EPS files )Microsoft Word (cannot save as jpg)
    Quark Express. I used Adobe Indesign.First create a document, use the place command to insert the EPS file, then export as JPG. Publisher Services advises against resizing the barcode as it may affect the readability but Booksmart shows a question mark so I re sized it slightly until the mark vanished.

    By Blaine
      January 2, 2009 – 9:35 pm   Permalink
  63. I had my first book printed and could not rave more about blurb… but when I started investigating how to add an ISBN code I ended up here: Shocked to realize I could have ended up with an unwanted white background barcode on the back cover of my book as it would have been a disaster.

    The solution appears obvious to me and I’m surprised that Blurb hasn’t taken any action to fix this situation.

    A) Just add an option where customers can choose to specifically exclude the print partner barcode… and only send those orders to the print partners that track without tampering with the back covers. Maybe it will take a little extra time to have that order printed and shipped, but I would bet the customers would rather wait than have the unsightly code.

    B) Modify your Cover templates in your software to indicate the print partner code ‘restricted area’ so people are aware of it when they are designing their books.

    c) Make a new Cover template that has a second image box in an acceptable location specifically for the ISBN code image. You have many templates for inside the book pages with photos that overlap eachother and it seems this is the same situation. It would be a lot easier for the customer than having them fiddle with photoshop or other image editing programs when they could just drag-and-drop the image into its place.

    From what I’ve seen, read and experienced, Blurb is developing a fan base much like Netflix did. People love it because it’s easy to use, it’s intuitive and it’s a great concept. Please don’t let this easy to fix issue turn into more of a debacle that it already is.

    Heck… I”ll even come down there and even help you figure it out if that’s what it takes.

    I have a 2nd edition in progress but I won’t order it until I’m confident my covers won’t be marred by this code.

    Thank you.

    By Eric
      January 16, 2009 – 11:06 am   Permalink
  64. How do I get an ISBN number? This is my first book and I want to be able to sell it where ever, when ever…. thank you :)
    I assumed that this would be part of the Blurb deal… I guess we all know what assuming does, lol.
    Thanks, Mad

    By Madeline
      January 27, 2009 – 4:13 pm   Permalink
  65. I love that in 9months, this hasn’t been resolved.

    By Natasha
      January 27, 2009 – 7:36 pm   Permalink
  66. NY Times’ website has a very popular article on self-publishing in their top 10 right now. It mentions about 5 other self-publishing companies, but Blurb is conspicuously absent. The other companies don’t even offer the printing quality near to what you have, but they do 2 very important things:

    1.) Give their customers the option to print with/without Commercial ISBN barcode, (NOT PRINTER’S IN-HOUSE BAR CODE).

    2.) Help their clients sell on Amazon.

    Now, I realize you are not partnered in any way with Amazon. I’m sure you prefer to require all book buyers to create their own Blurb accounts. But you’re really missing out on serious, high-volume, quality customers over this bar code issue!

    By Y Flores
      January 28, 2009 – 3:02 pm   Permalink
  67. A question to Blurb – I have several friends that are interested in publishing with you. However, this barcode issue seems totally unacceptable.

    What are your plans to fix this. Please give specific dates – that is if you do plan to address this issue. Thanks.

    By PPS
      February 11, 2009 – 8:17 am   Permalink
  68. I have read the comments on the barcodes and ISPN numbers, do you answer them on the blog or personally? I want to publish on your site, but I want both numbers. Please advise.

    By Ginny
      February 20, 2009 – 10:37 pm   Permalink
  69. Hi everyone -
    We do not currently offer ISBN numbers for users books. You can purchase an ISBN and include it in your book layout if you need one to sell your book via Amazon, etc.

    In regards to the barcodes on our books – you may have noticed that some of our printing partners have switched to sticker barcodes on the books. Peel them off slowly to avoid any sticky residue to clean off.


      February 23, 2009 – 2:40 pm   Permalink
  70. Its all well and good saying you can buy an ISBN, but in the UK you have to purchase a minimum of 10 and its costs over £100. If you were to instead set up as a reistered publisher and offer ISBN numbers it would be so much simpler and cheaper – how hard can it be?.

    By David
      February 26, 2009 – 7:51 am   Permalink
  71. WOW, glad I read this…I would have been really annoyed if a ISBN # was printed on the back of my image wrap. So the latest is “Some of our vendors are now using stickers”. What that means is the issue has not been resolved yet. If I were to order a 10 x 8 Image wrap book would there be, or would there not be an ISBN# printed on the back cover. I live near New York City. I could accept a sticker but the printed ISBN is a deal breaker

    By Steven Sisti
      March 6, 2009 – 3:30 pm   Permalink
  72. I am publishing up to 150 pages of poetry and I’m just curious on how I actually get the image of the barcode…how exactly do I make it? Is there a section in Booksmart that can help me with this? Thanks for your help.

      March 8, 2009 – 6:27 am   Permalink
  73. RE: Sticky Residue
    Put a drop of oil on your fingertip and lightly rub it on the sticky stuff left on the book cover. The oil will break down the glue and you will be able to wipe it off in a few seconds. You can repeat this if you have a lot of sticker left, just let the paper soak up some oil, and it will pull off real easy.
    Just use one drop on your fingertip at a time, you don’t need to flood the book, just a little bit will work :)

      March 19, 2009 – 9:34 pm   Permalink
  74. As an additional resource, some BlurbNation book makers are registered publishers with Bowker the US distributor of ISBNs. So those who’d like help with an already purchased ISBN or would like to publish with our help, check out the BlurbNation Directory on this site. (I’m one, and a publisher.) I know this won’t help everyone, but it may be particularly usefull for those who know only that an ISBN has to be on a book to sell through retail venues (or in most cases now online as well.) Check us out, and ask us questions!
    A BlurbNation Book Maker
    Heather N Grimmer
    HG Design Studios, LLC

      March 25, 2009 – 10:55 am   Permalink
  75. I see this issue is still unresolved. I recently received a 13×11 book from the European printer and it had a printer’s barcode on the right-hand-side of the back cover. Nowhere in your Software was it mentioned that such a barcode would appear.

    Just as well mine was a test book and I hadn’t set up to print my ISBN block at that location. The convention (and it is not a requirement as the first poster on this thread seems to think) is for the ISBN block to go on the lower right of the back cover. The lower left will have to do in my case, although I can see why many people producing show-books are really annoyed with you Blurb.

    I think the biggest problem is that you hide the fact that a printer’s barcode could/might appear. I’ve never thought much of your so-called Booksmart software – a horrible, buggy, slow re-invention of the wheel – but the least you could do is place a warning in it about the printer’s barcode. To have not even done that after all these months and the above numerous complaints is pretty shoddy, to say the least.

    By CBN
      April 6, 2009 – 3:48 am   Permalink
  76. I have read most of this blog and am totally confused.

    If so many people do not like something, why not fix it?

    I would like to add a bar code that specifically goes with my book.(and ISBN number)

    How would this work if I might be given at random your barcode?????

      April 6, 2009 – 11:13 am   Permalink
  77. I received an answer from you with regard to my earlier question about whether or not subsequent printings of the book would look the same as my review copy. You replied that you constantly calibrate your printers to achieve consistent results, but I personally know two people whose subsequent orders were different and darker than their first, and whose subsequent orders had large barcodes in back whereas their first ones didn’t. And even though you told one of them that the barcode was “easily removable,” it wasn’t. How can I prevent this? How can I make sure the same printer prints my subsequent copies as my review copy? I want to order 50 books, so this question isn’t exactly frivolous.

      May 6, 2009 – 10:27 am   Permalink