Does My eBook Need an ISBN?

Illustration of a person sitting on stack of books with ISNB barcodes visible

What is an ISBN? 

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique identifier used to track books.  This 13 digit number helps sellers and consumers track your book.  ISBNs can also provide information about what country a book was published in, what language—and more. 

Do I need an ISBN for an eBook? 

Not necessarily. A digital only release does not necessarily require an ISBN.  Some eBook sellers require them and some don’t.  However there are a few good reasons to consider an ISBN for your upcoming release. 

Organized and Easy to Find

Digital book sellers that don’t require an ISBN will assign your book a unique identifier of their own.  However, these proprietary identifiers are limited to working within their own systems.  In other words, Kindle will give you a unique identifier that works only within Kindle’s system.  Since that identifier only works in the Kindle system, Barnes & Nobel will give you another for their system.  And so on and so fourth.  

Having one singular unique identifier for your book is a consumer friendly practice that makes it easier to find.  However, if you’re only planning on making your book available through one or two of these marketplaces, an ISBN may not be worth the investment. 

Expanding Your Reach 

While many eBook sellers do not require an ISBN, some do.  And eBook creators looking to hit as many channels as possible should factor this into their decision.  Many libraries or digital library services may also require an ISBN.   The bottom line here is, the more places you put your eBook, the more valuable an ISBN becomes. 

Does My eBook Need an ISBN?
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