Book Projects

The Importance of an ISBN

I learned something interesting this week as I delved farther into this publishing business.

It turns out an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is pretty important and has a few rules that kind of caught me by surprise.

I thought that if I bought one ISBN then I’d be cover.

Man, how wrong I was!

As it turns out if you’re going to have your books in multiple formats, then you need an ISBN for EACH and EVERY format. Print or Digital.

Breaking it down even further:

If I want to publish on Kindle and on iBookStore, and each has a different format,

I then must have a separate ISBN for each. This way, my potential readers can find the proper format for the e-reader they are using.

So if I have ten formats, then I need 10 different ISBN.

One ISBN cost $125, Ten cost $250

Now keeping this in mind, I looked at the publishers I listed last time and narrowed the pool down to two.

Amazon Kindle and

Each one will give me an ISBN but allows me to publish across multiple platforms and distributes to all major retailers. Plus by using their Style Guide I can format a word document, drop it into their meatgrinder, and get several different formats (.ePub – .Mobi) which then can be distribute to everyone.

And since it is DRM-Free (Digital Right Management Free), I still keep all the rights to my story and can then publish it with Amazon Kindle later on.

And if you’re wondering about royalties:

You get 85% from Smashwords and 60% from retailers. That’s not too bad.

There is one more thing I must point out, something I don’t really like to think about. Mostly because it’s another mighty beast, right up there with Publishing.


Did anyone else cringe?

I’m won’t get into that just yet, first I need to get the novella up to snuff.

Now if I’m wrong about anything or you’re a little confused, feel free to let me know.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of an ISBN

  1. Yes, each format requires a separate ISBN. When I published my ebook on Kindle platform, I didn’t bother with ISBN because KDP makes it optional. I wonder if in a distant future when we have only ebooks, ISBN will be of any relevance?

    • Thanks for the comment!
      A lot of the sites I looked at gave you the option to use your own or that they provided you with one. I think ISBN will still be in use for a while, unless they make everything one format.

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