Tuesday, July 5, 2022




When we talk about ISBN, we refer to the international standard book number that serves as a

tag for proper identification of any book anywhere. However, there are more facts about the

ISBN you need to know, so read on as we walk you through 5 of them.

1. Every Book Has Its Unique ISBN 

Just like every phone line has its unique number and every finger has its unique prints on it, so does every book you find on the shelf come with its unique ISBN. You see, ISBN cannot be recycled, and thus every version or edition of a book should have one unique to it.

It also doesn’t matter if the same title is split into paperbacks and e-books; both versions still require different ISBNs. Ever wondered why you can’t slap the same ISBN on multiple books? The aim is to protect the book from copyright infringements and help libraries and bookstores keep track, identify, and catalog the books properly.

2. The Contents Of An ISBN 

Do you ever look at the 13-digit ISBN on the back of a book and wonder what it means? Well, the ISBN simply defines basic properties of the book, such as place of publication, the publisher details, title, format, and so on. To put into more detail, here are the 5 basic components of any ISBN:

  • EAN – usually 978 or 979
  • Registration group – tells you the region the book was published
  • Registrant element- tells you who published the book
  • Publication elements – these include title, format, category, author, synopsis
  • Check digit- mathematically calculated to ensure the ISBN is accurate 

3. It Can Be Used With Or Without A Barcode

Most often, the ISBN is a number seen on the barcode of books. However, you should note that this is not always the case. You see, if a book is to be sold in a physical store or kept in a library, there is always the need for a barcode. This helps to track and properly catalog the book and also helps generate sales properly. On the other hand, books to be sold online do not need a barcode.

4. The Issuing Of ISBN 

Who is the ISBN issued to? How is the ISBN issued? When it comes to ISBN, this valuable number can only be issued to the company or individual credited with the publishing of the book. And in the aspect of who assigns it and how it is assigned, we simply refer to the ISBN agencies of every country that assesses and submits data about the country’s books to the international ISBN agency. This agency, in turn, assigns the ISBNs which are distributed by the agencies of different regions.

5. Purchasing ISBN

The ISBN must be purchased by the publisher rather than acquired through a service for free. Why? Simply for the fact that when you, as the publisher, purchase the ISBN, your imprint will be on the book. This isn’t the case when ISBN is acquired through service, as it is the service’s imprint that’ll be attributed to the book 


It is obvious now that the ISBN is more just a 13-digit number sitting pretty at the back of your book. Instead, you now realize just how much of a huge tool the ISBN is for giving an identity to any book and also preserving this identity for as long as needed.