The purpose of the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is to coordinate, standardize, and uniquely identify one publication (or edition) published by one specific publisher in one specific format. The original standard was introduced in 1970 and has been revised over time as book and book-like items appear in new forms of media. Today this system is recognized and used in over 160 countries.
The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are designed to provide you with some basic information about ISBNs, how they are assigned, and their usage requirements. For additional information, please visit the International ISBN Agency website where you can also access the ISBN Users' Manual.
If you want to sell your book on sites other than the Lulu.com Marketplace, it must include an ISBN.
Yes. Print on demand is just another method of printing books, but in very small batches. If you wish to sell your book on sites other than Lulu.com, your book must be assigned an ISBN.
Publications available on a limited basis, such as customized, print on demand publications with content specifically tailored to a user’s request (such as a photo book or personal calendar) shall not be assigned an ISBN. If a customized publication is being made available for wider sale, for example through a college book store, then an ISBN should be assigned.
No. Publications that are intended by the publisher to be regularly updated or continued indefinitely (such as journals, magazines, newspapers, or websites) shall not be assigned an ISBN.
Since 2007, national ISBN agencies provide ISBNs consisting of 13 digits, grouped to communicate the following information:
Your book’s Format (hardcover, paperback, eBook, etc. including dimensions), Title, Author, Contributor(s), Edition, Language, Publisher or Imprint, Country of Publication, and Publication Date are associated with the assigned ISBN. If you use a free Lulu ISBN, Lulu will automatically register the above information as part of the Distribution process.
Important Note: A Lulu ISBN will not be registered if the book or eBook is not submitted for Distribution. For more information see What Distribution Services Does Lulu Offer?
Lulu offers free ISBNs in the Lulu Publishing Wizard. If you would like to assign an ISBN to your print book project, choose Make it Public and Assign an ISBN to sell your book in online stores like Amazon as well as the Lulu Marketplace when starting your publishing project. For eBooks, choose Sell Everywhere.
Important Note: Once an ISBN is assigned to a Lulu project it cannot be removed or changed. It is therefore extremely important that you enter the correct information about your book when you create the project within the Lulu publication wizard.
An ISBN is only needed for retail distribution to sites other than Lulu.com. Since some of our print book formats and sizes do not qualify for retail distribution, they are also ineligible to receive an ISBN. For a list of book formats that qualify for retail distribution and an ISBN, see What Products are Eligible for Retail Distribution.
Note: An ISBN is not required to sell your book in the Lulu.com Marketplace.
If you choose not to use a Free Lulu ISBN and you are a resident of the United States, Lulu can purchase an ISBN on your behalf using your publishing information.
If you would rather “do-it-yourself”, U.S. residents can purchase and register ISBNs from myidentifiers.com. Residents of other countries may also purchase directly from their respective ISBN agencies.
Note: Purchasing an ISBN makes you the Publisher of your book.
See Also: Bringing your own ISBN Agreement
Yes, however you must register the title, author, and other metadata information with the agency from which you obtained the ISBN. For additional information, see Bringing Your Own ISBN Agreement.
Once an ISBN has been associated with a publication, it can never be reused to identify a different publication, even if the original ISBN was assigned in error.
ISBNs can only be assigned to a single project within a single account. They cannot be split, removed, or transferred between projects or accounts.
Likewise, the publisher and/or imprint name associated with your ISBN can only be used in a single Lulu account and cannot be used in, removed from, or transferred to other Lulu accounts.
For example, if you purchase a block of 10 ISBNs and register them to Remarkable Books Press, you cannot use five of these ISBNs in your Lulu account to publish your children's book series and give the remaining five ISBNs to your wife for use in publishing her series of Physics text books from a different Lulu account. The same applies if a single author maintains mutiple accounts used for the publication of different literary genres.
No, an ISBN identifies a book’s title, its edition, and format for all time. Even if out of print, your book may still exist in some shops, and will certainly continue to exist in libraries.
No, the original ISBN must be retained, provided the title, format, and publisher remains the same.
Important Note: An ISBN can be associated with a single Lulu project. You can un-retire a project and retain the original ISBN. If you create a new project in order to reissue the previously published book, you will need a new ISBN.
Yes, a new title requires a new ISBN.
A new ISBN is required when:
You do NOT need a new ISBN when:
The ISBN must appear on the published work in the following locations:
For eBooks, the ISBN must be displayed as part of the copyright information.
Different formats of an electronic or digital publication are regarded as different editions and therefore require different ISBNs for each format made separately available for purchase.
No, it is the country in which the publisher is based that determines the group identifier – not the language of the text. Therefore, you may use a Free Lulu ISBN for works published in languages other than English.
Important Note: Lulu only offers retail distribution services for print books created in Latin character sets and eBooks written in English.
Yes, different formats need different ISBNs so that a customer who wants to buy a book in hardback rather than paperback can be confident they will receive the correct format.
A substantial change of text or cover design requires a new ISBN because these types of changes are considered a new revision of a previously published work. Additionally, if revisions have been made, the copyright page should state that the book is a revised edition, and the new ISBN should be printed there.
Important Note: An ISBN can be associated with a single Lulu project. If your intended changes result in the release of a new edition, you must create a new project so that a new ISBN can be assigned. Don’t forget to retire the previous version!
No, a new ISBN cannot be issued solely for marketing or promotional reasons. A new ISBN can only be issued where there are changes of text, format, cover design or binding.