Select Page

Why is ISBN Expensive? ISBN Cost Explained

Why is ISBN Expensive?

Written by Araix Rand

Araix Rand is the Founder of Bookllo Publishing, an author, blogger, and photographer. Since 2019, he has been helping authors in self-publishing and marketing their books. Additionally, he writes for various business and marketing blogs.

Categories: Self Publishing Question

Published on: 24 Apr, 2024

A unique international number for book server, a good purpose for identifying books and makes it easy for global book distribution. Without a unique code, it will be difficult for booksellers to identifies other books with similar title. The unique code also helps in tracking book sales and managing inventory for the book retailers.

If you look at the benefits of ISBN (the unique international number for a book) then spending money on ISBN purchase is justified. Spending too much on a tracking code may eat your marketing budget, especially for self publishers.

ISBN is an international unique code. It is used and accepted globally, but ISBN is issued locally. That means you can only obtain an ISBN from the country of your nationality.

Cost for ISBN

The cost for an ISBN purchase depends on country to country. Some countries charge money for obtaining ISBN and others provide for free. For example, one ISBN in the USA costs $125 but neighboring country Canada offers ISBN’s for free.

If you are from the US, then you might be asking why ISBN is expensive. Let me tell you. ISBN is expensive for only self-publishing authors. It’s not expensive for book publishers. Book publishers purchase ISBN at bulk pricing. In the US, you can purchase 1000 ISBNs for $1500, that is $1.5 per ISBN. Book publishers have money to purchase ISBN in bulk. It is only self-publishing authors that want one ISBN or purchase ISBN when it’s needed.

Why and how come ISBN Expensive

ISBN agencies around the world are not kinds towards independent authors (self-publishing authors). In India, where ISBN are offered by the government for free, independent authors have to face many struggles to obtain ISBN but book publishers get an easy pass. It’s takes 14 days minimum to obtain 1 ISBN for independent authors in India. Authors have to wait 14 days, then reapply for a 2nd ISBN. Not only that, the rules are unfairly enforced by the ISBN agency in India.

ISBN Agency Monopoly

In the USA, the ISBN agency is privatized. Some country ISBN agencies are operated by the local government. Privatized ISBN agencies charge more for ISBN as it is a private company and a monopoly, but if you ask me, it’s still better than government operated ISBN agency. Free ISBN or no free ISBN, all ISBN agencies are monopolies.


You can buy ISBN from us at a low cost. We will assign your book a US-based ISBN under our reputable book publishing company. For just $39 per ISBN, you will get a unique ISBN code registered in the US, assigned to your book, a Barcode, the right to use our reputable publishing imprint name and lifetime support. After purchase, the ISBN code will be delivered to your email address instantly and assigned to your book within 24 hours.

We offer ISBN service to independent authors from anywhere in the world. You will get a US-based ISBN for $39 instead of $125, and get all the benefits that come with using a US-based ISBN. You can obtain an ISBN from the US ISBN Agency directly if you are not from the US. But, with our help, you can.

When will my book appear in the ISBN Database?

When will my book appear in the ISBN Database?

Please understand that there is no centralized or global ISBN database. There is a centralized book publisher database called the “Global Register of Publishers” maintained by the ISBN International Organization. The Global Register of Publishers doesn't include...

Can I publish a book without an ISBN?

Can I publish a book without an ISBN?

You can publish ebook without an ISBN. Selling Ebook online is much easier. There are platforms Like Gumroad and Selly that can help you sell ebooks without ISBN. Publishing a print book without an ISBN is not possible. You can print a book without an ISBN, but you...

Does ISBN protect copyright? Self Publishing Guide

Does ISBN protect copyright? Self Publishing Guide

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and it has nothing to do with book copyright. I understand some ISBN agencies make it a big deal for obtaining ISBN. They ask for lots of ID verification and are strict about issuing ISBN, but that is just...



Contact us if you have any questions regarding our website and services that we offer.