When people write books, including ebooks, getting themselves an ISBN is often an afterthought – if they think of it at all. I thought it might be good to explain exactly what an ISBN is and why it is important.
What is an ISBN?
‘ISBN’ stands for ‘International Standard Book Number’. It is a ‘serial number’ for a book: no two books, or ebooks, published anywhere in the world will have the same ISBN.
ISBNs are essential for maintaining order in book catalogues because they overcome the fact that both book titles and author names can be duplicated. ISBNs can also help avoid confusion when a book has multiple editions – by applying a unique ISBN to each edition, anyone searching for a specific edition will be able to identify it.
(A handy hint when comparing the price of books at online stores: to make sure you’re comparing like with like, find the ISBN of the book you’re looking for at the first store, then search on that number, rather than the title, at subsequent stores.)