Isbn Bar Code

Written by Christopher Ransom
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Think of a book's ISBN bar code as its social security number. ISBN, which stands for International Standard Book Number, is a ten-digit number assigned to every book to easily identify the author, title, and format edition, and is usually printed on the back of the book next to a bar code. Because there are millions of books, and many titles available in different formats, the ISBN bar code was created to help booksellers, publishers, wholesalers, distributors, and shoppers identify a specific book.

The ISBN is part of a catalog system for all registered books in print, where more information such as the book's publisher, distributor, and summary data about each book is also available. The ISBN bar code is in effect the industry standard and a must have for anyone who wants their book to be sold through retail stores and online bookstores. Just like at the grocery store, where the bar code of every product is scanned at the register, the ISBN is what most booksellers scan to inventory and sell a book.

How to Get an ISBN Bar Code for Your Book

For do-it-yourselfers, you can go online to www.ISBN.org and read about the application process of establishing an ISBN bar code for your book. You will have to fill out an application and submit it through an ISBN agency, which in turn submits the application to R.R. Bowker, the U.S. independent agency for ISBNs. The cost of applying for an ISBN bar code is a minimum of $225.00 for ten titles (10 ISBNs), but may be less if you are registering more. There is also a $20.00 annual service fee if you choose to apply online.

Many book printers and publishers offer an ISBN bar code service when printing your book. Just like the paper and ink supplies that a book printer buys in bulk, most of them are used to buying ISBN bar codes in bulk and therefore can sell you a single ISBN at a lower price. However, registering your ISBN through a third party printer or publisher may effect what company (publisher, printer or distributor) is listed in the catalog of all ISBNs, and therefore in the databases of bookstores and wholesalers. This may limit who sells your book if they have a policy of not stocking self-printed titles. Make sure you talk this over with your printer before hiring them to do your ISBN bar code application for you. And don't forget to visit www.ISBN.org for more details.


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