What Is An ISBN And What Does It Mean?

Your FastPencil project is guided by our Publication Setup Button - How to Prepare for Publishing!

"Authors can self-publish a book in many ways, from traditional printing to digital publishing. No matter the avenue you choose, purchasing an ISBN or International Standard Book Number from Bowker in the US, Thorpe-Bowker in AUS, or Nielsen for UK, is an important component to publishing your book. The ISBN is the familiar number on the barcode on the back cover of every book. It is a code assigned to books on an individual basis. Every single ISBN is unique.*"

Get an ISBN + Barcode through FastPencil

We distribute both print and electronic books nationally and internationally. We have teamed up with Bowker to offer special rates on ISBNs and Barcodes to our members. Once you have a FastPencil account, you can publish and pair ISBNs and automatically-generated barcodes directly with your books and eBooks through your dashboard. Publish under FastPencil's imprint (see Publishing prices here) or purchase a Publisher Account Imprint through the FastPencil dashboard for the added benefit of having your custom publishing imprint attached. 

ISBNs are provided through Global (Wide) Distribution service. No ISBNs are provided when publishing through Private and Marketplace distribution. (More about Distribution Options here.)


FastPencil Books are produced with retail-store ready ISBN and barcodes, and marketing metadata is collected and paired with your title during the publishing process. (Spotlight article: Publication Setup Button - How to Prepare for Publishing.)

 Image of FastPencil Published Book Spine and Back Cover from Twitter user @eanbowman - https://twitter.com/eanbowman/status/703275835726426112.


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An ISBN is what registers your book and lists you as the publisher. ISBNs are how libraries, bookstores, and distributors identify and keep track of your book. You will not be able to sell your book through traditional bookstores and retailers without an ISBN.

Your book does not have to already be published to purchase an ISBN; you can buy one separately and then assign it to the book when it is finished. Keep in mind that the ISBN does NOT mean your book is copyrighted. Copyrights are issued through the Library of Congress, or through this sponsored copyright service. Bowker and Nielsen are private companies that only issue ISBNs, not copyrights. 

The International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, is the most important identifier you will link to your book.

ISBNs provide unique identification of your books and simplify the distribution of books throughout the global supply chain. It explains exactly which book is being bought and sold; down to the version, size, cover design, and format.

Without an ISBN, the title will not be found in most bookstores or libraries.

With an ISBN, you can sell your book anywhere in the world.

The ISBN identifies a book in a specific format, edition and publisher doing business in the publishing industry supply chain.

ISBNs are linked to essential information allowing booksellers, and readers, to know what book they are buying, what the book is about, and who the author is.

ISBNs are the global standard for identifying titles ISBNs are used world-wide as a unique identifier for books. They are used to simplify distribution and purchase of books throughout the global supply chain. Most retailers require ISBNs to track book inventory.

Publishing books with an ISBN improves the chances of book discoverability through standardization. 

*SOURCE: https://www.myidentifiers.com/

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