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  • Writer's pictureTullipStudio Team

The difference between ISBN and Barcode that Indie Authors Must Know

What is an ISBN?

International Standard Book Number or for short ISBN. ISBN is a 13-digit number to identify the details of each book that the author has published and includes information such as publishers, author, book title, synopsis, book genre, and the book format. Getting an ISBN will make the book discoverable worldwide by just entering the ISBN code in every children's book.

Just like barcodes for every product sold in the grocery stores. A barcode tells identify the details of the product when it’s being scanned. For instance, full cream milk has one barcode of its own, fat-free milk has another different barcode even it’s from the same company. Same way as it is for books, each version of a book needs its own ISBN on the book to identify the bookstore/bookseller, which version of the author’s book is being sold.

When do you need an ISBN?

The author will be needing an ISBN when they’re wanted to make a publication of a book. The purpose of ISBN is to identify the bibliography of each book that is published and assigned with an ISBN. So, the author will need a different ISBN for each version of their published book. For instance, if the author publishes one version of the book using a paperback and the other version using a hardcover, each book will need one ISBN registered that tells different descriptions.

Getting a book assigned with an ISBN will help bookstores, libraries, and readers find the book and detail the book from the book title, book genre, synopsis, the publisher, and the author’s name.

What the difference between an ISBN and Barcode?

For Each ISBN purchased, the barcode can be either include or not. ISBN is just a product number that assigns to the system and identifies details of the book. Whereas barcode is how the actual number in ISBN is translated and readable by a scanner. Barcode can be added some other information besides details of the book, such as the price of the book where it’ll be useful for bookstores.

Meaning of Numbers in ISBN

The five parts of an ISBN are as follows:

- The current ISBN 13 numbers will be prefixed by “978”

- Group or country identifier which identifies a national or geographic grouping of publisher

- Publisher identified which identifies a particular publisher within a group

- Title identifier which identifies a particular title or edition of a title

- Check digit is the single digit at the end of the ISBN which validates the ISBN

Must know about ISBN

- ISBN never expires

- 1 ISBN made for 1 book format/version

- Easily searchable using ISBN

- Useful for readers and bookstores to identify the book

- Global standard for book identification

- In some countries/regions, book without ISBN will be charged with higher taxes

But I’m a self-published author, do I have to be go through a publisher to purchase an ISBN?

No, you don’t have to go through a publisher to purchase your own ISBN. In this case, the publisher is the company, group, organization, or individual who is responsible for

initiating the production of a publication.

I publish my books through a platform that already provide me with free ISBN, do I still need one?

Depends on the terms and conditions that are made by the platform. For example, every eBook that is published through Amazon Kindle Publishing will be provided with an ISBN. This ISBN is available only for eBooks that are sold on the Amazon market and only for eBook products. So, if you’re planning to sell outside of the Amazon marketplace and wanted to make the book into different versions such as paperback or hardcover, then you’ll need an ISBN for each version that is published.

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