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What is an ISBN?

An ISBN or International Standard Book Number is like your book’s DNA. It’s a unique 13-digit numerical code which identifies your book, ebook or publication.

The purpose of an ISBN is to provide a standardised and internationally recognised method of identifying and cataloging books.

It’s essentially a code that keeps the book universe in check. It’s a symbol of literary order, ensuring your book can strut its stuff and captivate readers without any confusion or mix-ups.

This amazing 13-digit code, provides details about your book which may include:

  • If your book is part of a series
  • Your book’s publication date
  • Your book’s title
  • Whether your book is in its first edition or a later edition
  • The main language of your book
  • Your name as the author of the book
  • The name of anyone else involved in the book (such as the illustrator)
  • Your book’s format (such as hardback, paperback or ebook)
  • Whether your book has won any awards or prizes
  • The subject area or genre of your book
  • The main audience for your book
  • Your book’s publication rights
  • Your book’s price

If you’re self-publishing your book and have purchased and registered your ISBNs through Nielsen, you have total control over the above information which is associated with your book.

For those of you who like to know the technical details or like breaking codes, an ISBN is divided into five parts, each indicating specific information about the book. The parts include a:

  • prefix element
  • registration group element
  • registrant element
  • publication element
  • checksum digit
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