5 reasons you should never publish your book without ISBN

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I have had couples of relationships majorly with first-time authors, and it’s understandable; given the fact that ACEworld Publishers has always been known for giving light to sprouting flowers.


The literary community is saturated. Of course, you may think otherwise due to derailing in reading culture especially here in Nigeria but I put it to you that the Literary community is saturated. Now the problem is that the cake is not shared equally. If you thought writers are poor, you would be startled when you get to know the few folks amongst us getting thousands of dollar paychecks (but with a clean mouth). Yes, they most likely won’t tell you how it’s done. Surprised? Don’t be! You can learn more about how writers make money in Nigeria here.

However, information is knowledge; and knowledge is key, so if you want to dine with the kings, you need to know how things are done so you don’t end up wishing otherwise. This is why bridging the gap is necessary. So…

What is ISBN and why is it so important?

According to International ISBN Agency, an ISBN is essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format.

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An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a 13-digit number calculated by using a specific mathematical formula and include a check digit to validate the number.

Each ISBN consists of 5 elements with each section being separated by spaces or hyphens. Three of the five elements may be of varying length:

  • Prefix element – currently this can only be either 978 or 979. It is always 3 digits in length
  • Registration group element – this identifies the particular country, geographical region, or language area participating in the ISBN system. This element may be between 1 and 5 digits in length
  • Registrant element – this identifies the particular publisher or imprint. This may be up to 7 digits in length
  • Publication element – this identifies the particular edition and format of a specific title. This may be up to 6 digits in length
  • Check digit – this is always the final single digit that mathematically validates the rest of the number. It is calculated using a Modulus 10 system with alternate weights of 1 and 3.

Importance of ISBN: why you should never publish without it


ISBN is your book’s identity in the global market. This is simple: ask yourself why it’s necessary for you to have a National Identification Number (NIN). Ask yourself why you are required to provide an ID Card everywhere you find yourself: school, office etc. Simply put as, without ISBN, your book has no identity. Talk about the Title, it holds no unique ground.

Supply Chains

Many publishing and supply chain systems are based on ISBN. You want your book to travel the world right? You want it to find spots in International libraries and catalogues, distributed and read by millions around the world? ISBN is the key, the visa, ticket and green card.

Bookstores Requirement

Most recognized bookstores won’t feature or sell your book if it is not first listed within their warehouse database. To get there, your book must have a unique ISBN. So if I may ask you, why would you allow your book suffer automatic rejections? You have written something more African than Things Fall Apart, fine. But why subject it to unnecessary limitations?

Lending Rights

The national lending right in some countries is based on the ISBN. Such schemes enable authors and illustrators to receive payments proportionate to the number of times that their books are lent out by public libraries.

Global Presence

An ISBN identifies the registrant, title, edition and format of products used by publishers, bookstores, libraries, etc. and is important for ordering, sales reporting and inventory control. An ISBN increases the chances that your book will be found.

Frequenty Asked Questions as regard ISBN:

Are ISBN numbers unique?


Where is an ISBN located?

On most books, the ISBN number can be found on the back cover, next to the barcode. If a book doesn’t show the ISBN on the back cover, look on the page featuring the copyright and publisher information and the ISBN will be found there.

How long does an ISBN last?

An ISBN number never expires. Even very old numbers with only 10 digits can be converted into a 13-digit code.

Who issues ISBN?

In Nigeria, ISBN is issued by the National Library.

Can 2 books have the same ISBN?

No. ISBN is a unique number assigned to books individually.

How do I get an ISBN for my book?

That’s actually included in our supplemtary services at ACEworld Publishers. To get a National Library Issued ISBN, fill this form below:

We will get back to you as soon as we receive your request.

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Micheal Ace

About the Author: Micheal Ace

Simply Ace, Founding Editor & CEO of ACEworld Publishers. I'm obsessed with growth. Join me on Twitter .

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