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How to Find an ISBN Number by Title

Updated April 17, 2017

An International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, is a unique number of ten or thirteen digits assigned to every printed book. The ISBN represents the book's title and publisher. Only books published in 1970 and after are assigned ISBNs. Different formats of books, such as e-books, hardcover and paperback versions, are usually assigned different ISBNs.

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  1. Look at the book itself. Find a copy at the library, in a bookstore or on your own bookshelf. If it still has a cover, the ISBN can be found on the back near the barcode. If the cover is missing, look on the back of the title page, where the copyright and other printing info are located. The ISBN will also be listed there.

  2. Utilise public databases, from libraries, universities and booksellers such as Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com. Enter the title of the book into the database. When you find the correct entry, the ISBN may be included in the information provided. Barnes and Noble includes the ISBN near the title. Amazon.com includes ISBN info in the Product Detail section.

  3. Subscribe to a books-in-print database service. There is not much call for an ISBN database, since most info regarding books is free. That said, the data services from Library of Congress are well regarded and widely used. For example, the Library of Congress Global Books in Print database contains "over 5 million bibliographic records for in-print, out-of-print, and forthcoming books, audiobooks, and videos published in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and the U.S." ISBN data is included in this bibliographic info.

  4. Purchase and employ Endnote, or other similar reference management software that can connect to libraries and download book data.

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About the Author

Elaine Riot

Elaine Riot has been writing professionally since 2001. Her work has been published online; in quarterly business, arts and education publications; and in B2B and consumer magazines. A natural wordsmith, Riot writes effective copy for a diverse clientele, including the University of Washington, Vulcan, Inc. and Amazon.com. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

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