What is the difference between an ISBN and a barcode? Do you need to purchase a barcode with the ISBN?
I received this question from an author and am going to share the answer in this training.
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Rene Applin submitted this question in today’s Ask Shelley segment.
“Hello Shelley, I used CreateSpace to publish my first children’s book. I use the free ISBN they offered and I’ve since learned a lot about the importance of having your own ISBN.
I want to have complete control over where my book will be distributed as well as getting the most out of my royalties. So now I’m in the process of publishing my second children’s book.
I plan to purchase my own ISBN’s for this and future projects. I heard about a website called myidentifiers.com that sell them in bulk.
I’m considering purchasing 10 ISBNs for $295 from this website, but I soon realized that the ISBN and barcode are two separate things.
So my questions are:
1.) Is it necessary to purchase a barcode along with the ISBN?
2.) Can I replace the ISBN on my first book with my own ISBN? And,
3.) Should I invest in multiple ISBN’s and Barcodes?”
Before I answer those questions, I have a few notes.
I just published my first print children’s book and I’ll be sharing more about that soon. And regarding the importance of having your own ISBN, we could go into a whole training on that, which I do talk about in AuthorAudienceAcademy.com.
Also, I would like to congratulate you for your second children’s book. I love when I see author’s publishing series or multiple books because that is a great way to serve your audience.
Purchasing a Barcode with ISBN
Let me go ahead and answer the first question first.
“Is it necessary to purchase a barcode along with the ISBN?”
I have purchased my ISBNs from myidentifiers.com; that’s what I recommend. I do realize that some people get confused on this with ISBN and the barcodes.
They are separate.
All you need to purchase is the ISBN. You do not need to purchase bar codes. I’ve had some of my clients in Author Audience Academy ask the same question, so you’re not alone.
This is a common question that’s why I think it was a great question to answer in a training.
So no, you don’t need to buy the bar codes.
What happens is when you publish with a print-on-demand company, like Createspace, you will have the bar code generated for you from CreateSpace. So they’ll generate a bar code for you based on your ISBN. So you don’t have to worry about that.
With places like Ingram Spark, when you go to publish on with them, there is a place where you can generate your barcodes for free based on your ISBN. Then, you can use what is generated in your book cover going forward.
That’s what I’ve used to create a hardback version of my children’s book.
Whatever option you use for printing your book, you do not need to pay for barcodes. So please, do not pay for the barcode; you can invest that money into other things.
I do recommend purchasing your own ISBNs, it does give you so much more flexibility, so much more control. That is what I do now.
I actually purchased a batch of 100 ISBNs, just because my husband and I have so many books. We already have over 50 books. That’s what we did.
But 10 is really what I typically recommend for most authors. It is a really good place to start. It’s a lot cheaper than just buying one at a time. If you know you’re going to be writing more than one book, that’s usually the best thing to do.
Occasionally, myidentifiers.com will have sales. So when I purchased my bulk package of ISBNs they were having a sale. I got mine for a discount. Look for that. Look for sales and discounts.
I’m not sure how often they do that, or if they still do that. I know they did do a sale like that when I purchased mine.
The second question is, “Can I replace the ISBN on my first book with my own ISBN?”
That’s a little bit more of an in depth question, but basically, what you’ll have to do is retire your current version of that children’s book. If you use CreateSpace, just call them up and say, “Hey, I have this children’s book. I want to retire it and republish it with this new ISBN.”
They’ll take care of it in a day or two, literally. I’ve done this several times. So, just retire the old version, and then you’ll have to go through the process and upload your book again.
Make sure you change the ISBN in the interior of your book because on the copyright page it should be there. And then use your new ISBN when you’re uploading it to CreateSpace and you should be fine.
That’s definitely something you can do.
Typically when I have retired my books, I made sure that I had a Kindle version as well so that I can keep my reviews. But, I think that even if you have a retired version of the same book, what you’ll do then is just let Amazon know through AuthorCentral.amazon.com once your book is published.
Then give them the contact link, and let them know it’s the same book. Also, request to connect the different versions. That way, you keep your reviews and the information from the book. You haven’t really changed anything, you’re just changing the ISBN.
That’s what I’ve done in the past. If you have additional follow up questions on that, I’m available inside AuthorAudienceAcademy.com, and I’m able to answer questions like that all the time.
Investing in Multiple ISBN’s and Barcodes
The third and last question is, “Should I invest in multiple ISBN’s and bar codes?”
I think I’ve already mentioned that. I know many authors that are just one and done. They want one book that’s a business card for their book or one book that’s a passion project. Or they write one book that they’ve really decided they want to write, or God’s put on their heart to write.
If you’re that type of author, then just buy the one ISBN, no need to buy multiple ISBNs. But, if you’re already planning a series, I would say buying it in ten pack would be good.
I would say that a children’s book series would be ideal, because once they get to know your writing and they like your style, parents and grandparents may eventually buy more than one book from you.
I hope that was helpful for you Rene, and I hope the rest of you learned something today from this about ISBNs and bar codes.
If you’ve found it helpful, please share it with some of your author friends, and make sure to check out all of my free training. I have so much free training for you guys at ShelleyHitz.com/free, and there is just so much for you to enjoy.
Thanks so much for being here, and I will see you next time!
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