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.

ISBN questions

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 have 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 after publishing you decided to leave Tablo, you’d need to buy new ISBNs or use the ISBNs supplied by your next publisher.

Related articles

Publishing your book

Distribution to stores

Rights & permissions

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