ISBN Numbers, Bar Codes & Publishing

ISBN Numbers, Bar Codes & Publishing

There are certain things you need to know to complete the publishing process. They are simple but take careful consideration:

ISBN Numbers:

An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique identifier for your title – no two books are given the same number. ISBN numbers are free and issued from the ISBN Service System (CISS) of the Canadian government and are available online here.

When you first register, you will need to create a login name and password. You will then receive free ISBN numbers, assigned personally for your use for each “separate” book that you publish; e.g. a hard cover and an e-book must have their own ISBN numbers. A list of questions will have to be answered for each ISBN issued. This unique ISBN then applies to only that incarnation of your published work. For more information on ISBN’s, visit the CISS website listed here.

Bar Codes
A bar code will contain your ISBN number and the price of your book. To sell through bookstores, you will need a barcode. The printer/publisher for your book can produce your barcode, all they need is your unique ISBN number for that book; the bar code will appear on the back cover. Contact the Canadian Telebook Agency for more information on barcodes.

Most authors are not lucky enough to find a publisher willing to ‘foot the bill’ to publish their book but fortunately, today self-publishing is available and easier to use than ever before. Do your homework to find the most cost effective way to get your book into print. Go online to register with companies like CreateSpace (Amazon) and authorHOUSE, or look for a printer in your neighbourhood that prints books, and work with their design person to turn your manuscript into a finished book. Have your finished manuscript and cover picture ready and a maximum budget in mind.

For an out-of-province or out-of-country publisher, evaluate the average cost of publishing, shipping, customs and exchange rates to see if, after all upfront costs are totalled, you can still make money selling your book. Remember, the total publishing cost will ultimately determine the sale price of your book and the ability to have some money left over for yourself. This might seem like a minor point but you should always ensure your book price covers costs + extra for you.

National Library & Legal Deposit
In accordance with the “National Library Act”, Canadian publishers are required to send two copies of all their published books to the National Library of Canada for deposit. They say, “Legal Deposit is the means by which a comprehensive national collection is gathered together as a record of the nation’s published heritage and development”. Contact them at: for more information.

Article provided by: Hans Victor von Maltzahn & Elizabeth Banfalvi

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