If you want to sell in bookstores, your book must have an ISBN and barcode. Read on for the basics on ISBNs — what they are, how they are assigned, and why they're important.

ISBN basics

  • An ISBN functions like a product number.

  • Its exists to single out one title or edition of a title.

  • Every ISBN is unique, and can belong to one book edition only.

Assigning an ISBN

  • We assign your book ISBNs before you publish.

  • One ISBN is needed for each format — eBook, paperback or hardcover.

  • The cost of assigning ISBNs is covered in your plan fee.

  • ISBNs cannot be reused, which is important to protecting your copyright.

Barcodes & ISBNs

  • Your book’s barcode is the ISBN translated to a machine-readable image.

  • We generate your barcode for you, and add it for you to your book’s back cover.

  • The space taken up by your barcode measures 1 inch by 1.755 inches.

ISBNs & author rights

  • You can publish with ISBNs from Tablo, or your own pre-bought ISBNs.

  • If you have your own ISBNs for your book, give these in Additional Notes when you publish, and we will assign them to your book editions.

  • Publishing with ISBNs from Tablo has no effect on your rights, including copyright.


How many ISBNs do I need?

You need one ISBN for each edition of your book in a different format (eBook, paperback or hardcover).

Do I need to buy my own ISBNs?

No, the cost of assigning ISBNs to your book is included in your publishing fee.

Who owns the ISBNs you assign?

Tablo is the owner of the ISBNs we assign. If left Tablo to publish elsewhere, you need to buy new ISBNs or use the ISBNs supplied by your new publisher.

Where can I see my book's ISBN?

Your book's ISBN appears with your publisher information on the reverse side of your title page. You can also find it on your book's back cover or dust jacket, above the barcode.

Can you use an ISBN I give you?

If you have purchased new ISBNs already, we can assign them to your book editions.

If your ISBNs are not new, or if your book has been published and distributed before, you should register new ISBNs or publish with ISBNs we give you.

A new ISBN for the same book is common. This happens when a new edition is published, or the publisher changes. A new ISBN lets bookstores and readers easily identify the latest edition of your book.

Is the barcode the ISBN?

The barcode is your ISBN in a machine-readable image. We add a barcode to the back cover of your book for you. All print books offered for sale must have a barcode.

Related articles

Plans & pricing

Publishing your book

Distribution to stores

Cover design

Rights & permissions

Print quality & proofs

Did this answer your question?