ISBN Numbers

What is an International Standard Book Number (ISBN)?

You may have asked yourself, “Do I need an ISBN Barcode?” and the answer depends on what you want to do with your book. But if you’re going to sell your book, then the answer is yes! International Standard Book Numbers, also known as ISBNs or ISBN Numbers, are required to publish and distribute a book through booksellers. ISBNs are used to identify books worldwide, and nearly all booksellers need books to have a unique ISBN.

Who Can Sell ISBN Numbers?

Bowker is the only agency in the United States that can issue ISBNs. Buying an ISBN directly from Bowker is the only way to be the owner of that ISBN.

A word of warning: ISBN Numbers are non-transferrable. If you purchase an ISBN from any organization other than Bowker, you won’t be the owner. If you are interested in buying an ISBN, we advise you to visit Bowker and purchase directly from Bowker Identifier Services.

ISBN Bar Code

When purchasing ISBN Numbers, you will be able to also buy a barcode for $25. If you don’t buy a barcode at the time of purchase at Bowker, Presto Page can create a barcode (for the same price), and we will incorporate the cost of the book into the barcode and also place it on the back cover for you.

We recommend that you purchase our barcode creation service because we charge the same price for placing the barcode on your book cover as creating the barcode itself. We will also incorporate the amount you want into the barcode. But always buy your book’s ISBN directly from Bowker if you’re going to own your book’s rights as the publisher.

How Much Should an ISBN Number Cost?

Bowker sells a single ISBN for $125. Bowker also sells a block of 10 numbers for $295.

Are Discounted and Free ISBN Numbers Legitimate?

Be wary of a book publishing or book printing company that offers discounted, bulk, or free ISBNs. Any company that does so has purchased ISBNs in volume. If they’re reselling or giving those ISBNs away, they — the company — will be listed as the publisher of your original work. ISBNs also cannot be transferred from owner to owner. If you want to self-publish your book, be listed as the publisher, and own the book’s rights, you should buy an ISBN from Bowker.

Do I Need an ISBN?

If you want to sell your book in a store, you need an ISBN. Note: each version of the book (i.e., hardback vs. paperback, ePub vs. PDF) requires its ISBN. Consequently, this is where buying a block of ten ISBNs from Bowker can sometimes make more sense than buying a single one. If, however, you are publishing a book for non-commercial purposes, you don’t need an ISBN. Examples of this are family cookbooks or a book you’ll be exclusively giving away.

Four Parts of an ISBN

The ISBN Consists of Four Parts:


  1. The group identifier (0-1 for English-speaking countries)
  2. The publisher code
  3. The item number (the title of the book)
  4. A checksum character (check digit)

Let us Create your Barcode

Barcode Creation

Presto Page can create a barcode with a price built right into it. We charge $25 for this service, and it includes placing the barcode on the back cover of the book as well.

When you buy your ISBN, do not buy the optional barcode. Most book barcodes that you buy will be in a .eps format that only can be used in high-end page layout programs like Adobe Creative Suite. If you try to place the .eps file into word processing programs like Microsoft Word, the barcode will become a low-resolution graphic that scanners will not read.

It costs the same price for Presto Page to create a barcode for Presto Page to place a customer-supplied barcode on the book’s back cover. Save yourself $25 when you purchase your ISBN by having Presto Page create and put the barcode on for you.

Please note, the self-publishing author must supply Presto Page with the ISBN. Presto Page does not sell ISBNs.

What Size Should My Barcode Be?

Barcodes can range in size, but the minimum width is 2″ by a height of 1″. When you layout the back cover artwork, keep a minimum of 2″ x 1″ white space for the barcode placement. We will place the ISBN barcode we create for you in the space provided in your artwork.

Have Questions about ISBN Numbers?

If you have any questions about our barcode creation services, please feel free to call our friendly staff at (616) 247-0060

Or contact our Presto Page support team; they would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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