ISBN 101 Needed

Oct 6, 2021
Hi all,

Hope things are going well for you. My book is slowly but surely getting there. Thanks for your help and referrals. Claire did a fantastic job on the editing. I can't believe all the stuff I missed. Glad she found it. I have a book cover nearly complete from 100Covers. I'm extremely happy with it. And soon I'll be submitting to draft2digital based on recommendations here.

Here is my next question. Can someone advise on ISBNs? I see that D2D will assign one for free but it looks like it will belong to them. What does that mean? It appears there has to be one ISBN for each type of book .. printed, online and audio. Is that true? Someone mentioned to me that ISBNs could be purchased and there are places that will sell a certain quantity at a discounted price. What recommendations do you have and what other gotchas do I need to watch out for?

Thank you very much. In the future, I hope I can be of help to someone as you have been to me.

Apr 5, 2019
Because some ebook outlets require an ISBN separate from other booksellers, D2D basically buys what's needed, and applies it. Yes, it's theirs. If this is a concern, then go straight Amazon. The alternative is to buy the ISBNs you need yourself, and they are $100+ apiece (there are bulk discounts). So...

Yes, you need an ISBN for each format of book. This means if you do a hardback, a paperback, and an eBook, you'll need a minimum of 3 ISBNs. EBook ISBNs are optional, however, libraries REQUIRE an ISBN on their books, or they will not carry them. I'm going to assume that this applies to eBooks as well.

I went with D2D on this. As far as I'm concerned, if I ABSOLUTELY need an ISBN later to break from D2D, then go buy your own. I also went with Ingram Spark, who offered an ISBN at a reduced price (that you get to keep).

Claire Tucker

Copyeditor and Proofreader
Jan 26, 2018
Great questions, Ted.

If you want to own the ISBN, then you will need to purchase one for each format that you intend to publish in. Purchasing bulk (even purchasing 10) can be a good idea if you think you might want to publish in more than one format. In the US, Bowker is the place to buy ISBNs.

Reedsy has a good blog post explaining ISBNs, why you need one for each format (paperback, hardcover, ebook, audiobook, etc.). You can read this here: (This post also lists some important warnings, such as being careful of places charging more than Bowker does for an ISBN. It is well worth reading.)

Here's another good article (also from Reedsy) on how to get an ISBN. It explains what using a free ISBN from a provider such as Draft2Digital means. Here's the link to the article:

Hope these help!


Staff member
Feb 21, 2007
Hmmm...I read an article that said if you purchase your own ISBN, d2d will throw it out. Curious about this.

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