And they’ve gone and done it again! The ISBN agency has changed the way ISBNs are purchased. Their new sleek, pretty website is supposed to make purchasing your ISBNs easier and quicker than ever before. But is the new system really easier to use? Yes and no.

Our team tested the new system when we filed ISBNs for a new client last week. If you’re internet savvy, it’s pretty easy to navigate around and find the option you want. They even created nice neat little “packages” for you to purchase. Don’t be fooled, though, most of what’s in those packages isn’t necessary or can be done for much less than what they’re charging (some things, like “social media discovery,” are free). All you really need are your numbers—even the barcodes can be free if you know where to look (or have a coach that can handle it for you).

Now, you’re probably wondering if you even need an ISBN. Or what an ISBN is. Here are a few commonly asked questions and answers about ISBNs:

What is it?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a coded number that tells retailers information about the book title, author, publisher, price, and more. Resellers can even see how many ISBNs a publisher has purchased in each number. Note: The proper grammar when talking about an ISBN is not ISBN number. That is redundant and grammatically incorrect (sorry, just a pet peeve of mine).

Why do I need one?

Do you want to sell your book in any retail outlet or to a library, or on a website other than Resellers use these numbers to track and maintain inventory and easily order books from distributors. So if you want to sell your book, you need to have one.

How much do they cost?

The good news is, ISBNs have gone down in price! But they’re still an investment. You can choose—one for $125, 10 for $250, 100 for $575, 1,000 for $1,000. Obviously, the more you buy the cheaper they are. Also, the more you buy the more credible you look. Most independent and self-published authors or small publishers usually purchase ISBNs in blocks of 10 or 100. I always recommend my clients to get 10 unless you know you’re going to write more than 10 books.

Overall, the new system is prettier, sleeker, and will save you $25. But the packages get a little confusing, cost more than buying the ISBNs in blocks, and don’t contain the most useful tools.

Confused? Need a little more direction? Find all your answers in The Book Ninja Academy.

Photo courtesy Shutterstock, Sonsedska Yuliia

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.

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