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ISBN Number and where to Get Them

ISBN, which stands for International Standard Book Number identifies each book around the world. This allows booksellers, libraries, wholesalers and distributors to keep track of the books they have and/or sell.
An ISBN is a 13-digit number divided in five parts by hyphens. The first group of numbers is currently “978.” The second indicates the country where the book is published, the second identifies the publisher, the third identifies the publisher, the fourth is the title or edition and the fifth “check digit” validates the ISBN. (Please note that before January 1, 2007 the ISBN was 10 digits and any new or reprinted books must now have the 13-digit code.)
There are more than 160 ISBN issuing agencies around the world. The United States agency issues ISBN numbers for books published in the U.S., Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. If you live in any of these areas, go to R.R. Bowker. Publishers pay for blocks of ISBNs, from $275. for 10 numbers and up. (Be aware that there are unauthorized sellers on the Internet.) You should allow about 15 business days for your ISBN application to be processed. You can get it done faster, but it will cost more.
In Canada, you need to contact the Canadian ISBN Agency at the National Library of Canada.. The ISBN assigned for each book is printed on the back cover on the lower right side and appears just above the bar code. It will also be listed on the copyright page inside the book. For more information on ISBN’s visit the International ISBN Agency located in London, England ISBN International or write to Executive Director Brian Green at:


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