Self Publishing and Why You Don't Need an ISBN

Self publishing is very possible and an excellent Frugal Prosumer project. I have self published three books, co-authored another, and helped over 1/2 doz people publish their own book.

I, like many others, thought I had to have an ISBN number from Bowker, which you have to purchase. I paid $250 for ten numbers. Read this very good article about Why You Don't Need an ISBN, and What you Should Buy Instead at Will Entrekin dot com

In summary it says:

Long and short: as an independent author publishing digitally, you’ll do better ignoring any of Bowker’s offerings–including its “self-publishing services” and investing instead in founding your own small press as an LLC and legal entity.

First: if you want your print book on shelves in either bookstores or libraries, you’ll need an ISBN. For this reason, corporate publishers–big publishers–definitely need an ISBN. Publishers who print books and ship them using the returns system need ISBNs. It’s how stock and sales are tracked.

As a self publisher you may want your book in bookstores but it is very unlikely that it will happen unless you go with a big publisher and that is even less likely to happen.

The bottom line is you don’t need to have print books in actual bookstores to ensure that readers will find your stories. These days you can go to the major digital retailers to sell your book: Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony and they do not require a ISBN number.