As if self publishing your own book wasn't hard enough - at some point you have to think about ISBN numbers. These confusing collection of seemingly random digits are more important than you think, so I've broken down everything you need to know in a complete, comprehensive guide.
You might ask; 'What does it matter if Createspace are listed as the publisher?' Well, you might not mind, but bigger bookshops will not stock books that are listed as published by Createspace. If you're seriously trying to become a best-selling author, using an assigned ISBN could hinder you.
It's worth noting as well, that you need an ISBN for each format of the book you are publishing, even if it is the same title. Here are some common scenarios which would require a new ISBN.
You add a hardback version = New ISBN
You added a page = New ISBN
You changed the title = New ISBN
You change the price = Same ISBN
You translate into a different language = New ISBN
You correct a spelling error = Same ISBN
You print a large-print format for blind readers = New ISBN
eBooks technically aren't required to have an ISBN number, yet you can still have one if you think you would benefit. They not only give the impression that you are more professional, but also make it easy for resellers and buyers to identify your book and it's details. Some big bookstores will not list your eBook on their site unless it has an ISBN.
Where do I buy my ISBN?
If you choose to use the assigned ISBN, Createspace will offer this when you create your title. But for the other options, you can buy them directly through the only companies who control them; Bowker in the US, and Nielson in the UK.
There are a plenty of third party sites who sell ISBNs, but I would steer clear of them. Not only do they cost more money, but you do not know what identifiers they are really using.
It's also good to know that not only can you save money buying the ISBN numbers directly, but you can get a good discount by buying in bulk too.
Where does my ISBN go?
Now you have your ISBN, you'll want to use it of course!
Your ISBN should appear on your barcode. When you bought your ISBN they will have provided it as a barcode, so use this file to place onto your book cover. (Or give it to your designer for them to place)
The barcode should be on the back of the book, near the bottom. There's no point trying to be different and placing it somewhere else or in a weird shape, because all that will do is confuse buyers and sellers, and prevent them from quickly scanning your book for information.
For example, here is a recent book I illustrated, with the barcode placed on the back.
You might also include the ISBN number without the barcode inside the book, on the page with your copyright and legal information, like this;
So that's it! You know know everything there is to know about ISBN numbers and hopefully, you're armed with enough information to start buying yours. If you have any more tips about ISBNs, or would like to ask a questions about them, please feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you.