How to get an ISBN for your self-published book
If you’re an author from Aotearoa, you can request an ISBN from the National Library of New Zealand here. There is no charge, although you may be asked to send a copy to the National Library once published. This will allow them to hold a copy for posterity, but also to create a catalogue record for your book, which can be used by libraries everywhere. So it’s actually a pretty good trade. Especially when you consider that in many other countries they charge for ISBNs. It could also potentially be used to prove your copyright claim if one ever comes up. Technically copyright is vested in a work as soon as you write it, but having a copy at the National Library can’t hurt.
Make sure you have all your book details organised before you apply for an ISBN. You can’t just say “book title to be advised”, or change the name of the publisher later. If you do want to do that you may have to create a whole new application, and they will still follow up on what happened with your original request.
Having said that, you will see that you only need basic information. They aren’t asking for number of pages or anything.
You can ask for an ISBN for various formats. Different formats of the same book will need different ISBNs. paperback, ebook, and audiobook being the main ones, but you will see that they differentiate between ePub and Kindle. Yes, you can get a Kindle ISBN to use with Amazon. If you don’t have one for Kindle, Amazon will supply you with a reference number that’s not an ISBN instead.
ISBNs help bookstore owners keep track of stock, and make sure they’re ordering the correct version. A customer needs to know if it’s the paperback or the more expensive hardback, for example. They also help people to search for your book online, if you aren’t a household name (yet) and/or if your book title is a common word. (Looking at you, “It” by Stephen King!)
Contact us if you have any ISBN questions and we’ll do our best to help.
Check out our Local Author Resources page for more handy tips.