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Many writers aren’t aware of this, but ISBNs can be obtained for free. Traditional publishers will supply your book with an ISBN, you can obtain one from most major distributors (such as Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Create Space), and your national library may even provide you with a free ISBN (though you might need to give them a copy of your book in the format it’s published in and fill out some forms).

We’ve listed some sources of ISBNs below, many of them free.

South African writers: You can obtain a free ISBN from Magret Kibido at the National Library of South Africa. Be sure to fill out this form and send it to Magret along with your request. You will also need to provide the National Libraries of South Africa with a copy of your book in the format it was published in. For a list of legal depositories in South Africa, click here.

Canadian writers: Read this detailed and informative blog post written by Karen Woodward.

Australian writers: Download a PDF or MS Word ISBN application form and fax it to Thorpe-Bowker at 03-8645-0395.

New Zealand writers: You can obtain a free ISBN number from the National Library of New Zealand. You will also need to provide the National Library of New Zealand with a copy of your book in the format it was published in.

ISBN numbers in the USA and UK are not free, although you can still obtain free ISBNs from various global ebook distributors such as Smashwords.

USA writers: You can purchase a single ISBN or a block of ten ISBNS. If you’re in the USA, the US Virgin Island, Puerto Rico or Guam, contact the US ISBN Agency.

UK writers: You can only purchase blocks of ten or more ISBNs. If you’re in the UK or Republic of Ireland, download the ISBN order form guidance notes and the ISBN order form (2012 prices), read and complete the forms, then scan and email them to isbn.agency@nielsen.com, fax them to +44 (0) 1483 712 214, or post them to the address on the form.

If you have updated information on where to purchase or obtain free ISBNs, please let us know.

Darla Mittler Document MagicWrite Way Freelancers


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