ISBN Number

Bar CodesThe ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a 13-digit number used to identify the self-publisher (you) and book title. Booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers, and distributors use this number to order, price, and keep track of inventory. If you plan to sell and distribute your book through these channels, your book will need an ISBN.

The ISBN must be printed in legible form (no smaller than 9 point type) on the copyright page. The ISBN is also used to create an EAN bar code that may be required on your book’s back cover. The ISBN must appear above the bar code. If you have old, unassigned 10-digit ISBNs or want to reprint an older title, you must convert any 10-digit ISBNs to the newer 13-digit ISBNs at

Bowker is the Official ISBN Agency for the United States, exclusively responsible for the assignment of ISBNs. You must apply for the ISBN so a unique ISBN will be assigned to you (the publisher). Morris Publishing cannot apply for you since we are the printer, not the publisher. Use caution – some companies offer "discounted" ISBNs; however, they will be listed as the publisher, not you.

File for an ISBN at A single ISBN cost $125. If you plan to publish multiple books, ISBNs are also sold in blocks of 10 for $295. When you place your order, you will receive the ISBN(s) right away. Note: If you plan to create an e-book version of your book, a separate ISBN is required.

When your book is ready to be sold, register the title to Books in Print, the main directory used by bookstores, retailers, and libraries. If you received a single ISBN through, you can complete book information to register to Books in Print; otherwise, go to

EAN & UPC Bar Codes

An EAN bar code is your ISBN transferred into an OCR (optical character readable) scannable image. An EAN bar code is not necessary in most cases. If you plan to sell your book through distributors, wholesalers, and larger retailers, you will need a bar code. Smaller retailers may not require it; ask if you are not sure.

The bar code must be placed on the back cover and printed in black ink on a white background. Morris Publishing can create a bar code and place it on your back cover for an extra charge. Provide us your ISBN and reserve space for the bar code if you create your own cover. Follow the templates and instructions in our document, Submitting A Press-Ready Cover (PDF). If you don’t include a bar code on your book and later discover that you need one, bar codes can be printed on pressure sensitive labels (to adhere to your back cover) for an extra charge.

In addition to the EAN bar code, a book may require a Universal Product Code (UPC) bar code if it will be sold to retailers other than bookstores. Depending on your marketing plan, the book may require both EAN and UPC bar codes. Ask retailers if you are not sure. For more information, visit