ISBN’s are usually bought by a publisher, as they are sold in lots of 10 - and they come with a responsibility. As a publisher you must list the details of the book with the ISBN agency and you are legally responsible for making sure one copy goes to the British Library.

We always offer a free ISBN and barcode to customers who want one, and we list your book properly and provide a barcode for retailers to use. We do request that you post one copy of your book to the British Library, and supply you with the address to do this.

You may not know this, but the fact is you do not always need an ISBN, it really depends on what you want to do with your book. Local shops and bookshops, even local libraries, will take a copy without needing an ISBN, and you can sell your book yourself without needing one. It is not a legal requirement.

If however, you want to list your book on Amazon, they do ask for one, so if you plan to market yourself digitally then it’s worth investing in one. If you’re hoping to persuade a larger bookshop, such as Waterstone’s, to take your book, then they too ask for an ISBN - so if you have hopes of the big time, then it’s also a good idea!

If you’re not sure, or have any more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

ISBNs and barcodes