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Do I Need An ISBN?

Do I need an ISBN? It’s a question that we get all the time. For most people, the answer is “definitely.” A single International Standard Book Number is $125 (at the time of this writing) and is an excellent investment in your publishing future.

Basically, an ISBN is not required for face-to-face sales, sales on your own website, distribution to crowdfunding backers, etc. It is, however, required by bookstores, Amazon, book distributors like Diamond, libraries, and so on. (Your friendly local comic book shop or local coffee shop might buy a few of your copies as a kind of community benefit.)

The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is required for each version of your book: new editions, softcover and hardcover versions all need a unique identifier. The only place to purchase your own ISBN is

PrintNinja does not resell or provide ISBNs. We recommend that you only purchase ISBNs from the source above. The original purchaser of the ISBN becomes the “publisher” and that information is public. If you purchase an ISBN from a reseller, you will not be listed as the publisher on your self-published book!

ISBN Barcode

Once you have an International Standard Book Number you can generate a free barcode online. You do not need to purchase the barcode separately. When designing your cover or dust jacket, you can put the barcode and International Standard Book Number wherever you want, so be sure to include them in your art when you submit your files. Just make sure it’s 300dpi (ideally a vector PDF file). Otherwise, it may appear too blurry to scan.

If you have a hardcover book, you can opt to put the ISBN on a dust jacket or on a sticker on the outside of shrink wrap. (We’ve done both.)

The same advice goes for board games and card games – if you think that you want to give online distribution a try, the $125 fee is a small price to pay.