What’s an ISBN?
It’s an International Standard Book Number. It’s a unique number code given to books so that anyone who wants to buy or stock a specific book can find that specific book. Bookstores, libraries, readers, publishers, or your fans can search and find your book based on its ISBN.
Every ISBN consists of thirteen digits, though it used to be ten until around 2007-8, and whenever it is printed it actually says ISBN right in front of the number.
You can buy an ISBN through CreateSpace, which means they’ll be listed as the publisher, however, if you ever want your book to be carried by an independent bookseller, spend the money and purchase what you need through Bowker. Why? Bookstores do not usually like to carry books published by Amazon, and Amazon owns CreateSpace. Self-published books, though gaining ground (especially if you produce them correctly by using a professional editor and designer), still do not have the caché that traditionally published books have, so you want every advantage you can get.
To hear more about ISBNs including when you do and don’t need one, listen to the full episode.