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Publishing with Amazon: How Do You Get an ISBN Number?

Guest Blog By Stephen Ross

My friend Stephen Ross helps people upload their book manuscripts to Amazon and he has very kindly offered to share some of his information with my audience. Here is Part Two in his three-part series on getting your book published on Amazon.

Self-Publishing on Amazon

If you are self-publishing your book you will hopefully know by now that you need an ISBN number. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and it’s used to identify text-based publications that are “one-off,” rather than journals, newspapers etc.  Any book that is made publicly available, whether sold or given away, should have an ISBN number for identification.

The main generator of ISBN numbers in North America is a company called Bowker, but it is not absolutely necessary to go through them to get your ISBN number.

Amazon will auto-generate an ISBN number for your print book and an ASIN number for your digital book, register it with Bowker and and even generate the appropriate EAN barcode for the back of your printed book.

ISBN Number for Canadian Authors

If you are Canadian, you can also obtain a “free” ISBN number from the Government of Canada.

One thing to note is that if Amazon does assign you a number, it will only work with Amazon, so it may prove to be difficult in the future to move to another publisher or self-publishing company, although this is not important to most people.

Amazon will, however, offer you a discount link, if you decide you want to buy your own independent ISBN through Bowker.

More details below:

Amazon will take care of all of the copyright details, and although you don’t need to include a copyright page, most authors still do.

There is no upper or lower limit on how many books you need to buy though Amazon, in fact you don’t have to buy any if you don’t want to, but most people are so excited to see their book in print that they decide to order a handful to give away to their friends and loved ones!

This can be a complicated process and if you are not comfortable with digital technology you might find it somewhat frustrating. If you would like some assistance with publishing to Amazon, please email me and I’d be pleased to assist you on your book publishing journey!


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