ISBNs for Books

What does ISBN Stand for?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number.

Where is it located in a book?

An ISBN is located on the lower part of the book’s back cover and comes in the form of a barcode with a number. You can also find it on the copyright page of the book.

Why do books need an ISBN?

An ISBN is a standardized 13-digit international number used to identify a publication. It allows book suppliers, publishers, and libraries to locate and order books with a particular ISBN on a worldwide scale.

Does one ISBN work for all forms of a particular book?

No. You need an ISBN for each format of the book printed. A book might have new editions after the first print, and each of these new editions needs a new ISBN. The book might have an audio format. The audio format requires its own ISBN.

To note: eBooks need their own ISBNs. This is where buying blocks of ISBNs come in useful as you may assign an ISBN from a batch to your eBook. 
A platform like Smashwords.com will ask if you have an ISBN for your eBook during publishing and you can input it then. If you do not have one, Smashwords will assign an ISBN generated by their platform. 
It is also important to note that online retailers like Amazon do not need an ISBN. Instead, Amazon assigns its own number called an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) for eBooks. In summary, your eBook’s ISBN depends on the platform you’re looking to upload it to for sale. You also determine the cost of this purchase as a publisher with more than one author or as a self-publishing author.

What is the cost of getting an ISBN?

ISBNs for Books

The cost of buying an ISBN in Kenya is as follows:

  • Kshs. 1,500 for one (1) ISBN
  • Kshs. 10,000 for ten (10) ISBNs
  • Kshs. 50,000 for one hundred (100) ISBNs
  • Kshs. 100,000 for one thousand (1000) ISBNs.

The Kenya National Library Service is the official ISBN National Agency in Kenya. It issues Kenyan ISBNs to material published in Kenya.

It is always best for publishers to buy the block that will last them for a while because it’s able to maintain one publisher prefix and minimize the unit cost per ISBN. When purchasing a larger block of ISBNs, the price per ISBN decreases.

the Kenya National Library service

You can Apply for an ISBN in Kenya here: ISBN Kenya

Each country has an official source of ISBNs. Discover where your country officially disburses ISBNs.


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