Blog to Book Project — ISBN vs ISSN vs ASIN

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, and internet retailers to identify your book. It’s either a 10 or 13 digit number found on the copyright page and on the back cover near the bar code for print books.

Each version of the book has a different ISBN assigned. Your ebook will have a different ISBN than your print book. Black and white versions will have a separate ISBN from color versions.

You need an ISBN to sell your book online, in a brick and mortar store or donate to a library. Many on-demand or self-publishing platforms will provide you with a free ISBN, including Kindle Direct Publishing, Create Space, Draft2Digital, Smashwords, IngramSpark and Lulu.

Sometimes the ISBN is not transferable between sites. For example, if you get an assigned ISBN through Draft2Digital but want to sell your book on Amazon, you may need to have another ISBN assigned by Amazon. Then you have two ISBNs for the same book.

You can buy your own ISBN from Bowker or Neilson. If you live in the United States, you’ll need to get an ISBN from Bowker Identifier Services. If you live outside the United States, check International ISBN Agency for the local agency responsible for assigning ISBN numbers.

ISSN is the International Standard Serial Number. It’s an 8-digit code used for newspapers,
annual publications, journals, magazine, databases, websites and blogs. If your book is part of a series, you may have an ISSN.

You’ll find the ISSN on the upper right corner of the printed cover or wherever the editorial information is listed, probably on the copyright page. If the ISSN is for something that is considered electronic media, you’ll find it on the homepage or on the main menu.

The ISSN classification is divided into electronic (e-ISSN),  print media (p-ISSN) or series (ISSN-L). Many direct publishing sites will take care of obtaining an ISSN for you if needed. If you wish to request your own, visit the ISSN International Centre here.

You may have both an ISBN and ISSN for your finished Blog to Book Project.

ASIN is an Amazon Standard Identification Number for ebooks published through Kindle Direct Publishing. It is 10 characters made up of letters and numbers.

The ASIN is not the same as an ISBN. If you are publishing a book and have an ISBN (either one you purchased or one assigned to you by Amazon) the ASIN may be the same as the ISBN, which makes it confusing. However, the ASIN is used by Amazon internally to track products and the ISBN is used to identify your book across international borders.

So let’s look at some examples. One of my Blog to Book Projects was published only at Amazon. Amazon assigned me an ASIN for my ebook (ASIN: B07BD474SQ).

When I released the print version of the book, Amazon assigned what looks like two ISBN numbers, one with 10 digits (ISBN-10: 1980535515) and one with 13 digits (ISBN-13: 978-1980535515). In fact, the 13 digit number is the ISBN. All ISBNs since 2007 have 13 numbers. The 10 digit ISBN is actually the ASIN. Since my product is a book, the two are the same minus the first three digits.

Should you buy your own ISBN number or use a free one? That’s entirely up to you. As my budget is pretty tight, I opted to go with the free ISBN and it hasn’t been an issue for me because I only publish on Amazon. Maybe one day, when I make it big as a best selling author and have publishing houses lined up at the door to sign me up, well then maybe I’ll reconsider.   


Investigate your ISBN options and prices for your country. For U.S. resident: Bowker Identifier Services For anyone outside of the U.S.: International ISBN Agency

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