How to get an ISBN

How to get an ISBN

What do you need to do if you’re ready to publish your first book as a new publishing house or self-published author? You’ll need to complete various steps to make sure your book launch complies with legislation and the book industry’s standard practices. One of those important steps is to get an ISBN for your publication.

What is an ISBN? 

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique identifier assigned to every new book published. Its purpose is to facilitate database management throughout the book industry. It also helps booksellers, librarians and readers find the books they’re looking for.

To learn more about ISBNs and other unique identifiers, check out our detailed guide

Where can you get an ISBN? 

ISBNs are structured and distributed according to geographic or linguistic zones. As a result, the ISBNs for most English-language books start with 978-0 or 978-1 while those for books in French tend to start with 978-2.

If you’re publishing a French-language book in Quebec or the rest of Canada, contact Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). You’ll be given a free ISBN prefix that’s unique to your publishing house.

To request an ISBN for a book published in English, contact Library and Archives Canada free of charge.  

Keep in mind that ISBNs are necessary to receive certain Copibec payments. For more information, please go to the Publishers section of our site