I have created an e-book and I would like to publish it.

Do I have to contact an authority so I can get the ISBN or it will be automatically assigned from the e-book publisher?

What are the steps that I have to follow before contacting the e-book publisher?

  • Are you publishing it or using a publisher?
    – mmmmmm
    Feb 27, 2014 at 14:56
  • I am publishing my self. Feb 27, 2014 at 15:44
  • If you are the publisher and want to sell the book directly, I highly recommend purchasing an ISBN. If you are only going to distribute the book using third-party services like Amazon, you don't necessarily need one.
    – Roger
    Feb 27, 2014 at 15:54
  • Then note you are the e-book publisher - so it can't be assigned from yourself
    – mmmmmm
    Feb 27, 2014 at 17:01
  • see related ebooks.stackexchange.com/questions/860/… Feb 27, 2014 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


That would depend on if you are publishing the ebook yourself or going through a publisher. Sometimes a publisher provides an ISBN because they buy it in bulk. Having an ISBN is suggested to help identify your book and you can go to Bowker to obtain one.

If you plan to self publish to Amazon, known as Amazon Kindle Direct, you are not required to provide an ISBN:

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If you plan to publish to Barnes and Noble, known as Nook Press, you are not required to, and it's optional:

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If you go through Apple, my understanding you are not required to provide an ISBN if the title is FREE. Past experience: if the title is FREE at one point when you self publish you have to go through a lot of hurdles to attach a price to it later down the road.

Going through Kobo it is optional as well per my understanding, but I've never sold content on Kobo:

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Where you go to obtain an ISBN will depend on what country you are in: in the US, Bowker is the official ISBN agency. For other countries, check the International ISBN site. Many retailers will not require you to have an ISBN—Amazon, for example, has their own identifier for ebooks. Gramps's answer goes into more detail about which retailers do or do not require ISBNs, so I won't go into that.

When you ask about steps to take before contacting a publisher, I assume that you mean the retailer (such as Amazon, Google, iBooks, etc), as you say that you are intending to self-publish. Before contacting the retailer, it's a good idea to make sure that you have all the information you'll need. That information will include:

  • Title
  • Author's name
  • cover (in .jpg format)
  • description (the back cover copy works fine for this)
  • a list of categories the book falls into (most retailers use BISAC codes for this)
  • ISBN (if you're using them)
  • price
  • target audience age range
  • copyright info
  • scope of rights (if you're publishing something you've written yourself, this will be world rights unless you've sold or given away those rights)

You'll also need some financial information, so that you can get paid when your book sells:

  • Bank info (routing number, account number, bank address)
  • Credit card information. Some retailers require this so that they can charge you for any returns they get, if your sales in a given period don't cover the returns
  • Tax information: a social security number or EIN as appropriate.

If you go through a traditional publisher rather than self-publishing, the publisher should take care of all the related costs (editing, book design, cover design, ISBNs, marketing, and so on). "Publishers" who charge for these services are more often scams than anything else, seeking to relieve authors of excess money. For more details about the types of predatory "publishers" out there, check out Preditors and Editors.

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