One of the best explanations about ISBN

You read right.

This article provides the best argument and explanation I’ve ever read about why you need to buy an ISBN.

DNA Strand
DNA Strand

Every writer wants to know the difference in a Free ISBN and a Purchased ISBN. Well, now you have it.

One authorized place to purchase an ISBN is at

Click and read a terrific article on ISBN for your books…

An ISBN is a birth certificate for your book

Where do you stand on ISBN? Free or Purchased?




Do you know if you need one yet?

An ISBN for your book?

This question pops up again and again.

Free vs Purchased? Which is better?

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I know authors who use both. The answer is a personal one and each #writer must decide what fits the goal for their book. But whatever you do, don’t take the decision lightly.

I purchased my ISBN from Bowker and published through both IngramSpark and Createspace.

Here is why:

  • I wanted hard copies, not just ebooks.
  • A purchased ISBN belongs to me. Giving me all publishing rights and control.
  • Allows me to publish under my imprint. (Second Act Press, not Amazon or Createspace.)
  • My books are available to my local library through the IngramSpark catalog. (Love seeing them there.)
  • Brick and mortar stores can order them. (One-day fingers crossed.)

But, I did not purchase an ISBN for the ebook version.

Here is why:

  • It is my understanding that ebooks use an ASIN which is provided by KDP free.  (Y’all correct me if I’m wrong on this.)
  • The ebook distribution does best through Kindle  (In my humble opinion.)

Virginia Anderson goes into a great more detail about the ins and outs of ISBNs in a recent blog post. So, head over and read her article before you decide to buy or not buy one for your book.

Help! Do I Really NEED an ISBN? by VS Anderson

Have you decided what you need for your book?

Did you buy an ISBN or use a free one?

Did you use a publishing service to handle this?

Did you find the process complicated?

Will you do it differently next time? How?


Waiting on your comments, please leave me one. 

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Do you understand the need for an ISBN?

The link below from Kristen Twardowski is filled with information about the ISBN (International Standard Book Number.)

I’ve always thought of the ISBN like a sort of phone number incorporating the country, area code, full name, etc.

Kristen explains in detail what each part of the number stands for, where to get one and why you need it.

I’ve used the free ones provided by Createspace and I’ve bought Universal numbers through Bowker. Why did I purchase numbers? Because with my own numbers, I can publish through IngramSpark and Createspace which opens up distribution to bookstores and libraries. At least, I hope so.


Did you know what all the digits stood for?

Where do you get your ISBN?

After you read Kristen’s article, let me know what you think.

Leave a comment or click the “write me” tab or look for me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! The lights are on, and I’m waiting.

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ISBN: What It Is and Why a Book Needs One  by  Kristen Twardowski

Book publishing isn’t just about finding great pieces of writing and bringing them out into the world. Sometimes it is about the nitty-gritty. This means that at some point, an author or publ… keep reading