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  Introduction

ISBNs and barcodes are the subjects of much confusion for authors entering the publishing world.

In this module, you’ll learn all about ISBNs, what they are, where to get them, why you shouldn’t use the free ones, what formats and sales channels need different ISBNs, and when you need to assign a new ISBN for your book.


Many authors are attracted by the free ISBNs many companies provide in order to ease the process and complications of publishing, but you should always purchase your own.

When you purchase your own ISBNs you have total control over where your book is printed, published, and distributed. You will never get locked into a service when you own your ISBNs.

In this lesson, you'll learn:

  • what is an ISBN
  • how many you need
  • what formats need different ISBNs
  • how you list them in your book
  • what's the matter with the free ISBNs
  • what's a CIP block and why you need a block of ISBNs to get one
  • where to purchase them
  • how to fill in the records
  • ISBNs and your author page on Amazon and elsewhere
  • retiring an ISBN
  • replacing a retired ISBN with a new one
  • and I'll take you screen-by-screen through the process of filling in an ISBN record of your book on the Bowker site
  • there's also an hour-long replay of a webinar that intensely dives deep into ISBNs

Download the metadata cheat sheet from the Resources lesson at the beginning of this course and let's get started!

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