How to Get an ISBN in the UK

If you are an author and would like to be published in the United Kingdom, you might consider obtaining an ISBN for each book you publish. The International Standard Book Number provides information about the publisher and holds details relating to the edition of the book it identifies. You are not legally required to have an ISBN for your published books and the number itself does not offer any form of legal or copyright protection. However, should you wish to sell your books to the public through UK retailers, ISBNs will be required in order to facilitate their ordering and internal processes.

Apply to the ISBN Agency. The first step you need to take is contact the Nielsen UK ISBN Agency, which is responsible for assigning ISBNs to publishers in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Anyone planning to publish books for general sale or distribution in the UK can apply but the company issues ISBNs in batches of 10. In addition to books, the ISBN Agency also assigns ISBNs to calendars and diaries, on the condition that they are not strictly intended for time-management purposes and that their content is textual or graphic.

Pay the registration fee. Once you have contacted the ISBN agency and requested your application pack, you will be provided with information about pricing. Return your application form along with the appropriate fee and details of your order to the agency. The agency will then provide a 13-digit long ISBN for each title, allowing for 10 ISBNs. You can also purchase larger allocations, but it is not possible to obtain a single ISBN.

Wait for your order. Upon receipt of your correctly completed application form and payment, the agency will begin to process your order. The standard service time in the UK is 10 business days. You can also request a fast-track service for an additional fee. The fast track service takes just three business days.

ISBN Agency 3rd Floor, Midas House 62 Goldsworth Road Woking Surrey GU21 6LQ United Kingdom 011-44-87-0777-8712

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About the Author

Clemie Nye is a professional freelance writer currently contributing to several online publications. She has also been published by the British Film Institute, U.K., where she was an integral part of the BlackWord initiative.