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About ISBN

What is an ISBN?

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number.

Which products do and do not qualify for ISBNs?

Before contacting us , you should consider carefully whether the products you are publishing qualify for an ISBN. The following products below will qualify for ISBNs:

  • Monographic works (books) that are textual and/or have an instructional content.
  • Electronic products such as CDs, downloads, audiobooks etc that have a textual and/or instructional content, i.e. not purely for entertainment.
  • Journals published no more frequently than once a year.
  • Sets of volumes or packs of books or electronic products with a textual and/or instructional content.

The following products do not qualify for ISBNs:

  • Serials/periodicals/journals (these are suitable for ISSN)
  • Journals, record books
  • Videos, DVDs or other media for entertainment
  • Documentaries on video/CD-ROM, DVD or other media
  • Computer games
  • Computer application packages
  • Music scores
  • Items available to a restricted group, e.g. a course book only available to students on the course
  • Websites
  • Non text-based publications

Please Note: This list is not exhaustive.

What is the purpose of an ISBN?

An ISBN is a product number that is used by publishers, booksellers and libraries for ordering, listing and stock control purposes. It enables them to identify a particular publisher and allows the publisher to identify a specific edition of a specific title in a specific format within their output.

Do we have to have an ISBN?

There is no legal requirement for an ISBN and it conveys no legal or copyright protection. It is a product number.

What can we gain from an ISBN?

If you wish to sell your publications through major bookselling chains, or Internet booksellers, they will in most cases require you to have an ISBN to assist their internal processing and ordering systems.

However in the case of channel-specific e-books such as Kindle on Amazon, ISBNs are not always necessary. You should therefore check if you only intend to sell through that single channel, what their requirements are.

The ISBN also provides access to bibliographic databases, which are organised using ISBN as references. These databases are used by the book industry and libraries to provide information to customers. The ISBN therefore provides access to additional tools that could help sales of your publication.

Where can I get an ISBN?

ISBNs are assigned to Publishers in the country where the Publisher’s main office is based. This is irrespective of the language of the publication or the intended market for the book.

How long does it take to get an ISBN?

The Standard Service time is 10 working days. This excludes weekends, Bank Holidays and days when the office is closed.
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