Pop quiz: What does a book need to be sold in bookstores and stocked in libraries? An International Standard Book Number (ISBN).
That 13-digit code above the barcode, commonly known as the ISBN, allows publishers, bookstores, libraries, and online bookstores to track all published books.
You don’t have to have an ISBN to be part of Blurb’s Set Your Price program and sell your book in the Blurb Bookstore, but if you’d like to sell your book in other outlets as well, you’ll need an ISBN.
Not only does an ISBN allow you to sell your book, it also promotes it. Having an ISBN enables your titles to be listed in Books in Print ®, an online catalogue that bookstores and libraries use as a resource when ordering new books or stocking their shelves.
How to Obtain and Implement Your ISBN
While Blurb does not currently issue ISBNs, we can talk you through the process of how to obtain one.
Here’s the scoop: ISBN’s are assigned by specific national agencies and which agency depends on the country in which you plan to publish in. To help you find the agency you’ll need to contact, the international ISBN Agency has provided an easy-to-navigate menu with list of the agencies and their contact information.
For example, in the United States, ISBN’s are bought through Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency. They are sold in blocks of 1, 10, 100, 1000, or 10,000. The more you buy, the cheaper the price.
Why You Need More than One ISBN
We know you might be thinking, do I really need 10 or even 100 ISBN’s? Maybe yes, maybe no. Keep in mind, an ISBN is required for each edition of the book published. Let’s say you’re self-publishing one Blurb book, but you want to sell it as a hardcover, softcover and as an ebook. Each version would require a separate ISBN.
Now let’s assume you make a revision and want to print a second edition of your book in all three formats, that’s an additional three ISBNs. For those at home keeping score, that’s six ISBNs total for your first and second edition. So while it may seem to make sense to buy only one ISBN, it’s probably more cost effective in the long run to buy a bundle of 10 or more ISBNs.
How to Put Your ISBN on Your Blurb Book
The homestretch: implementation. To accompany your ISBN, you will need an ISBN EAN barcode before you are “officially” bookstore ready. The simplest way is to buy one directly from Bowker for US $ 25. Too rich for your blood? Watch this online tutorial on how to make barcodes for free with ID Automation software® using Microsoft Excel.
And big news! The latest version of Blurb BookSmart® lets you easily add your ISBN bar code to back cover to your book. For a complete how-to on using BookSmart to add your ISBN bar code, take a look at this blog post. Do all these things and it’s official – your book is ready for bestseller status.