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Self-Publishing: How Important is an ISBN Number?

by Scott Lindsay

You've weighed all your options and have determined that self-publishing makes the most sense for your foray into publishing. You understand that there is an increase in the need to self-market your title, but there is also a correlating increase in profit margin. Other risks have been assessed and you’re comfortable moving forward in the direction you've chosen.

Have you applied for an ISBN number?

"What's that?" You might be asking yourself. Well, an ISBN (International Standard BookNumber) is a specific number that helps identify your book and has provided the standard of book identification since 1970.

Some brick and mortar stores as well as online retailers have policies that disqualify the sale of a book that does not contain an ISBN.

The cost to purchase an ISBN may seem prohibitive for many. Here’s the basic cost structure...

Registration Fee: $24.95

Service Fee for 10 ISBN's: $225.00

Annual Fee: $25

Manual Processing Fee (if you file a print application): $50

Express Service (if required): $125

If you needed an ISBN number quickly you would spend close to $450 to get one. The truth is, you receive up to ten ISBN’s for the price listed above, but the acquisition of an ISBN doe note provide a distinction between the need for one or ten separate numbers, ultimately you pay the same price. This can be a benefit I you have additional titles planned, but can be a hefty expense for a single book

The online web address for ISBN acquisition is

You should know that there are resellers of International Standard BookNumbers and you can purchase a single ISBN for around $50 through these services. Another alternate avenue for the purchase of an ISBN is through your book printer. These printing firms often provide this as a service to their printing customers simply because they realize that you may not need 10 ISBN numbers and you may not wish to pay $300-400 for the use of a single ISBN.

The task of self-publishing may seem daunting, but it can be successfully done. Just as you spent time researching the subject matter for your book, so too is the process for the publication process. Beyond the need for an ISBN you will also need to manage copyright issues as well as filing your work with the Library of Congress. Again in many cases a qualified book printer can address these issues although you may find a less expensive alternative with a little online comparison-shopping.

Scott Lindsay is a web developer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of FaithWriters ( and many other web projects. FaithWriters has grown to become one of the largest online destinations for Christian writers. Members include writers from all around the world. Please visit the website at:

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