What is an ISBN?
The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique and permanent number that identifies any book around the world (visit the official website for more information).
Do I need to be a publisher to get an ISBN?
No. Anyone can purchase an ISBN for their book. As long you ask request an ISBN for content, then you are considered a publisher in the eyes of the ISBN agency.
Doing so costs money (and quite a lot).
However, any books published via StreetLib will be given an ISBN free of charge. Simply leave the ISBN field empty when publishing your book. We will then assign an ISBN within 12 hours (so don't be worry if it doesn't show up straight away).
What is it for?
In practice, the ISBN number is a logistics identifier used by bookstores and libraries to manage their catalogues.
Although some of the major players have their own solutions (e.g. Amazon Standard Identification Number - ASIN), it is still essential for authors and publishers around the world.
Is it compulsory?
It is not necessary, but it is needed to market your book.
Is there a different type of ISBN for eBooks?
No, the traditional ISBN is used for all formats.
I have already published with a publisher, but want to self-publish with StreetLib. Can you keep the same ISBN?
No, not even if the paper version is out of print. This is because each ISBN is unique and not reusable. In any case, eBooks and paper books have different ISBNs because they are different publications.
The ISBN agency also requires a different number for each digital format (epub, mobi, pdf, etc.). However, since it's just a matter of format and therefore compatibility with a specific device, this almost never happens: in online libraries it is possible that epubs and mobi's of the same ebook have the same ISBN.
What if I want to change the title or author of my book? Or publish a translation?
In all these cases, you cannot reuse an ISBN.