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What are ISBNs and why do you need them?

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique product identifier for books and related material. Whilst it is not a legal requirement to allocate ISBNs to your books, it is used by publishers, booksellers and libraries for ordering, listing and stock control purposes. It enables them to identify a particular publisher and allows the publisher to identify a specific edition of a specific title in a specific format within their output. Systems used by publishers, booksellers and libraries all rely on the ISBN to identify books ensuring they select and stock the correct title and edition.

To buy ISBNs from this site, you must be based in the UK, Ireland or a British Overseas Territory. If you are publishing elsewhere, you can find your national ISBN Agency on the International ISBN Agency’s website here

If you are going to publish only one book in only one format, the single ISBN will be enough.  If you plan to publish more than one book, or to publish a revised edition of the original, or if you are going to publish your book in different formats (such as paperback and e-book), you will need a different ISBN for each version and each format, so ten ISBNs would be more suitable. Unused ISBNs remain valid indefinitely.

All prices are inclusive of UK Standard Rate Value Added Tax.

1 Single ISBN
£91.00 per ISBN

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Prefix for 10 ISBNs
£174.00 per block of 10

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Prefix for 100 ISBNs
£379.00 per block of 100

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Prefix for 1000 ISBNs
£979.00 per block of 1000

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If you want to purchase larger quantities or to discuss your requirement in more detail, please email us at isbn.agency@nielseniq.com

can your product have an isbn?

Publications that are monographic (one-off publications, not periodicals or serials), text-based (or predominantly text-based) and available to the public are considered eligible within the scope of the ISBN Standard.

Examples of the types of publication that qualify for ISBN:

  • Printed books and pamphlets
  • Individual chapters or sections of a publication if these are made available separately
  • Braille publications
  • Publications that are not intended by the publisher to be updated regularly or continued indefinitely
  • Individual articles or issues of a particular continuing resource (but not the continuing resource in its entirety)
  • Maps
  • Educational/instructional films, videos and transparencies. General-interest documentaries are not eligible, the product must have a definable educational outcome.
  • Audiobooks on physical media (talking books)
  • Electronic publications either on physical carriers (such as machine-readable tapes, diskettes, or CD-ROMs) or on the Internet for download or streaming.
  • Digitised copies of print monographic publications
  • Microform publications
  • Educational or instructional software
  • Mixed media publications (where the principal constituent is text-based)
  • Print on demand publications (print on demand is just a method of very short run printing)

Ineligible products

Any publication that is without a defined end should not be assigned an ISBN. For example, publications that are regularly updated and to continue indefinitely (such as journals, serials, magazines, newspapers, updating loose-leafs, updating websites) are ineligible for ISBN.

Some examples of products that do not qualify for ISBN:

  • Journals, periodicals, serials, newspapers in their entirety (single issues or articles, where these are made available separately, may qualify for ISBN)
  • Abstract entities such as textual works and other abstract creations of intellectual or artistic content
  • Ephemeral printed materials such as advertising matter and the like
  • Customised print on demand publications (Publications that are available only on a limited basis, such as customised print on demand publications with content specifically tailored to a user’s request shall not be assigned an ISBN.)
  • Printed music
  • Art prints and art folders without title page and text
  • Personal documents (such as a curriculum vitae or personal profile)
  • Greetings cards
  • Music sound recordings
  • Software that is intended for any purpose other than educational or instructional
  • Electronic bulletin boards
  • E-mails and other digital correspondence
  • Updating websites
  • Games

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