{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

carol brill November 23, 2011 at 3:50 am

thanks for the Bowker tour. a few questions. The registration asks for Publisher. It never occured to me that I might need a publisher name if I self-publish – do I?
and why the package of 10 ISBN numbers? Is that 10 differenct numbers as in enough for 10 books? thanks carol


Joel Friedlander November 23, 2011 at 11:30 am

Hi Carol,

When you self-publish you can either use your own name or set up a publishing company. If you use your own name, you have your book, written by Carol Brill, published by Carol Brill. Some authors don’t want to present themselves that way so, if you form a publishing company (basically you, “doing business as”) it will be written by Carol Brill, published by Brill Books or CB Books, or Three Trees Books or whatever you call it. It’s a different way of presenting what you’re doing and doesn’t take much to set up.

You’ll need one ISBN for each different edition of your book, so people and retailers can tell them apart. So if you do a paperback and a hardcover, that’s 2 ISBNs. If you do a paperback and an ePub version for sale on the Nook and in the iBookstore, you’ll need 2 ISBNs. So it just depends on your plans. 1 ISBN costs $125, making it a spectacularly bad deal. 10 cost $250, or $25 each, still high but more palatable.


carol brill November 23, 2011 at 3:08 pm

thanks Joel. You are so helpful carol


Deborah November 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Joel, great info and easy to follow so I now have my ISBN’s thanks to you. What’s your spin on bar codes?

I appreciate all the info.


Joel Friedlander November 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Some printers supply them, or you can buy one for $10 from barcodegraphics.com. It’s a scannable version of the ISBN.


Pamela DuMond December 2, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Joel -

Incredibly helpful information. Thanks!

Pam DuMond


SE White February 17, 2012 at 9:44 am

If I do not need all of the 10 ISBNs and want to sell them to another author or two, will all mail, queries, etc. come to my registered address?

Is there any way to record those ISBNs so that the eventual owner gets the mail instead of me?

Sue Ellen


Joel Friedlander February 20, 2012 at 8:38 pm

You are not authorized by Bowker to re-sell the ISBNs you bought from them and, anyway, it’s a really bad idea since whoever buys them from you may not realize that you will be shown as the publisher of their book. Hold onto the ISBNs, they never expire or wear out.


Carol Brill November 30, 2012 at 9:14 am

Hi Joel, I feel like you’ve answered this question before, but I seached your site and can’t find it.
What’s the downside of not buying my own ISBN and using the free ones, provided by CreateSpace or Bookbaby?? thanks


Joel Friedlander November 30, 2012 at 10:15 am

Hi Carol,

There are 2 potential issues with using a “free” ISBN. First, it will show the owner of the ISBNs (CreateSpace, Smashwords, etc.) as the publisher of record. Second, if you ever want to move your book to another vendor, you will need to use a different ISBN and deal with the metadata issues that that implies.


Jean Wong March 25, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Hi Joel:

What about the SAN number–Standard Address Number—it seems really pricey at Bowkers–do you consider it important. Also when you say we can buy a barcode from barcodegraphics.com. Do they just give you some kind of sticker that you give to your book designer to slap it on the book?

Thanks–your stuff is always so clear!….Jean


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