What’s an ISBN Number

What’s an ISBN Number

What’s an ISBN Number

Posted on 10/20/2022 Evan Swensen
What’s an ISBN Number

Once you move from being a writer to being an author, you’ll come across many terms you may have never heard. Or, if you’ve noticed them, they acquire an entirely new importance.

Such as ISBN number. Every book you’ve ever bought has one of these long numbers, and you’ve probably looked at it a thousand times, right there above the barcode.

What is an ISBN number?

Why does your book need one?

And do they grow in cabbage patches?

International Standard Book Number. That’s what an ISBN number is.

They don’t grow on trees, but they’re not hard to get.

Wikpedia says that Gordon Foster, a professor of Statistics at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, devised a nine-digit code for the booksellers W.H. Smith, the first chain store company in the world. That was back in 1965. They needed a way to keep track of their books, and the SBN, Standard Book Number, did that.

Each book version—hardback, paperback, audio, large print, etc.—was given its own number, so the title alone wasn’t relied on for ordering stock. This reduced confusion, as different versions of a book, will, of course, have the same title and author.

Now there’s a 13-digit ISBN system in use worldwide: more books, longer numbers.

Libraries, bookstores, and other groups need an ISBN number to order books.

Amazon will not sell books without a correct ISBN.

So, before you go to print, you want to be sure you have them right.

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