The ISBN: What, Why, How?

The ISBN. What is it? Why do you need it? And how do you get it?

INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BOOK NUMBER (ISBN)

An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) identifies a title and its publisher. ISBNs are issued by individual agencies in every country that adheres to the standard. In the United States, you can acquire your number through www.isbn.org. In Canada, ISBNs can be acquired through Library and Archives Canada.

The 13-digit ISBN number helps:

  • Identify the specific title
  • Identify the author
  • Identify the type of book they are buying
  • Identify the physical properties of that particular book
  • Identify the geographical location of the publisher

You are under no obligation to get an ISBN; however, marketing your book will be difficult without one, as industry sales and distribution systems depend on them.

It’s simple and free to sign up. Register through ISBN Canada, or if you don’t have internet access, you can use the Library and Archives Canada mailing address. It takes about 2 weeks from time of registration to receive your ISBN(s).

CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION (CIP)

Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) is a voluntary program of cooperation between publishers and libraries, and a free service in Canada. Unfortunately, CIP service has been discontinued for self-published materials. Library and Archives Canada recommends that authors of self-published books consider approaching their local libraries or bookstores about opportunities to promote their works.

LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA

After your first print run is complete, and if you registered for an ISBN, it is important at this point that you send in a copy of your book to Library and Archives Canada. This is called a legal deposit and confirms the information that you provided for your book and completes the registration process. Legal deposit applies to publications produced in Canada regardless of medium or format, including, for example: books (monographs); serials (journals, periodicals, magazines); sound, video and spoken-word recordings; multimedia or instructional kits; CD- and DVD-ROMs; microforms; cartographic materials; and online or digital publications.

At Blitzprint, we always recommend our clients register for an ISBN. Better to have one and not need it, than to need one and not have it. For each client, we will create, free of charge, a barcode from the ISBN to insert on the back cover of the book.

For more information about ISBN, CIP and copyright protection, visit ISBN Canada.


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