Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 27, 2013

Self-Publishing Starters

Every book sold on the market needs an ISBN Number and a bar code, so if you are planning to self-publish a book, you will need both of these things, too.  Retailers use these numbers to track and catalog your books, and to report your sales.  

I am not saying you should run out and purchase these right now, because it will depend on the choices you decide to make. You may decide to accept a package from a company that includes these numbers. You could run into an editor who wants to buy your book and that would change everything.

That being said you should realize what they do for you and your options.


ISBNs are sold like any other commodity by Bowker and a few authorized re-sellers. And to accommodate the needs of these self-publishers, they made individual numbers available for the first time.

In addition, Bowker is actually registering your publishing company when they issue you your numbers, not your individual books. This is a key step for many self-publishers and that’s a pretty good reason to get an ISBN as well.

Bowker sells most of the ISBN numbers and discounts according to the amount purchased. The cost of buying just one is $125, so it is better to buy a block of numbers, because you will need more than one anyway. Most publishers these days are going to publish at least five (5) versions of a book (Hardback, Softback, EPUB, MOBI, and PDF), each of which requires an ISBN.

Smashwords will tell you that retailers such as Apple and Sony will not accept your Smashwords book unless you have a unique e-ISBN and everything on Smashwords is an e-book, but there isn’t a special e-ISBN, just plain old ISBNs.

Owning a block of 10 ISBNs is usually enough for two different books. Those who purchase blocks of 10 ISBNs are usually self-publishers who have researched their needs before making a purchase and realize this is the most cost effective purchase for their needs. The price of 10 ISBNs is $250.

barcode_homeThe Bookland EAN Barcode is an essential component of booksellers handling of the book. You must provide a retail price for your barcode. Cost $25

The largest book retailers, as well as many book wholesalers, require books to display the Bookland EAN barcode graphic symbol which carries the ISBN. At the point of sale in a bookstore, the ISBN is scanned and all related information about the title is accessed in their sales system — identifying the price correctly and subtracting a copy from their inventory etc.

In the US, the first digit of the add-on data indicates which currency the price is expressed in — so for US dollars, the designated digit is a 5. So an add-on of 51995 indicates a price of US$ 19.95. The largest US retailers such as Barnes and Noble now require the use of EAN-5 barcode on books they handle. Scanners in American bookstores cannot read the Bookland EAN code without the corresponding 5-digit add-on. Publishers who don’t comply with this requirement may be penalized.

Please remember what I said last week, writer’s who want to self-publish need to do there homework and try to hold back their enthusium in order to make the right choices, so please check back for my weekly post or start researching on your own if you can’t wait. Just make sure you do your homework before you jump in with both feet. Click here to read 1st Self-Publishing post

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Hi Kathy,
    Thank you for the information. Although, I’m not planning on self-publishing, I’ll be filing this away for future reference.


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