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The short answer; it’s complicated. The ISBN International organization doesn’t answer such question on their website. But let me answer it for you.

ISBN (International Standard Book Number), by its name you know it is an International book number. It’s unique for each book format. Just like a phone number (with country code added) is unique in the world, so does the ISBN.

ISBN is used internationally, but it is issued locally. That means the international organization doesn’t issue or sell ISBN, they only manage the database of book publishers in the world and ISBN agencies. Each country has one ISBN agency assigned by an International organization that is responsible for issuing ISBN to book publishers in their country.

You won’t be able to obtain an ISBN from another country’s ISBN agency directly. You can only obtain an ISBN from your country’s ISBN agency. But you can obtain an ISBN from a book publishing company in another country as an author.

Please remember, ISBN are issued to book publishers, not authors by their local ISBN Agency. Because of demand for self-publishing, some ISBN agencies have started issuing ISBN to authors for self-publishing their books.

You have to use an imprint name to obtain an ISBN. Imprint name or publishing name could be your company name, registered or unregistered. Some ISBN agency requires you to have a registered book publishing company to obtain an ISBN under its name. But authors who want to self-publish their book can use their personal name in place of imprint to register (obtain) ISBNs.

Some ISBN agency has their own rules on how ISBN can be used to publish a book. For example, if you obtain an ISBN from the Indian ISBN agency, then you are required to print your book within India. But The US-based ISBN agency Bowker has no such rules. As per Bowker official website, US-based ISBN can be used to print and market the book anywhere in the world.

As specified in the below image “an ISBN starting with 979-8 will allow U.S. publishers and self-publishers to market their books anywhere in the world.”

an ISBN starting with 979-8 will allow U.S. publishers and self-publishers to market their books anywhere in the world.

You should read the rules of your local ISBN agency.

Buy US-Based ISBN

There are many benefits of buying an ISBN from Bowker compared to ISBN from other ISBN agency. Benefits such as access to the largest publishing marketplace, no restriction in book distribution, instant ISBN, book catalog in the largest ISBN database and much more.

But the problem is you can’t buy ISBN from Bowker directly using your personal name. You have to be a US resident or register a company in the US to obtain an ISBN under your company name.

However, if you want to use a US-based ISBN to publish your book as a non US resident, then you are at the right place. We have registered our book publishing company in the US. You can publish your book with us, and we will assign your book an ISBN from our ISBN catalogs.

We offer book publishing and marketing services to authors who want to self-publish their book. You pay us affordable service fees upfront. You keep 100% ownership and royalties of your books.

If you just want the ISBN without our publishing services, then this option is also available for you. Good luck in self-publishing your book.



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