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Silver Spring, MD
United States


Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

Do I Need an ISBN or Copyright for My Book?

Nan Barnes

First, let’s clarify exactly an ISBN is. An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is the 13 digit number usually accompanied by a bar code on the book’s back cover or the inside front cover of a mass market paperback. R.W. Bowker, the company which serves as the U.S. ISBN Agency says, “The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition allowing more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers, and distributors.” The fee is $275 for 10 ISBNs. (Single ISBNs can be obtained through publishers.) The fee for bar codes is $25 each for 1-5 bar codes and $23 each for 6-10.

If you seek to sell your book or even if you are considering commercial distribution, you’ll need an ISBN. If you intend only a limited distribution to family and a few friends, you probably won’t need to get one.

The US Copyright Office defines copyright as “a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution… (it’s) a form of intellectual property law which protects original forms of authorship.” Work is under copyright at the moment it is created. Registration of a copyright is voluntary, but you must register if you bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement. The Copyright Office advises, “Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certification of public record.” Registration within five years of publication is considered prima facie evidence in a court. The basic fee to register a copyright online is $35.

As with an ISBN your intentions for your book will dictate what you should do. If you work with a commercial publisher or an author service company like iUniverse, Create Space, Author House or XLibris make sure you understand who controls the rights (meaning copyrights) to the book.