IngramSpark offers FREE ISBNs* for U.S. customers

It's our goal to provide you with the resources you need to publish a book. We've listened to your feedback, and we know it’s important to many of you that we offer free ISBNs.

Whether you plan to publish a print book or ebook —or both—providing an ISBN is an important component to publishing your book. In this video, Bradley answers some of the most frequently asked questions about ISBNs. Check it out!

Download the "Free vs Paid ISBNs" worksheet to find out what’s right for you and your book.

Download Now



What is an ISBN, and why do I need one?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It’s a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies your book. You need an ISBN if you want your book to be available for sale in bookstores or with an online retailer or wholesaler.

If you don’t plan to offer your book for sale, IngramSpark offers a free SKU. This provides an identification number for your book within our systems but isn’t for retailer use. If you change your mind and want to offer your book for sale later, you can always assign an ISBN to your title then.

How many ISBNs do I need?

Each format of a book needs its own ISBN. For example, if you have an ebook, paperback, and hardcover version of the same title, you will need 3 unique ISBNs.

Does IngramSpark offer free ISBNs?

Yes! IngramSpark recently began offering free ISBNs for U.S. self-publishers. You can access this in your IngramSpark account during the title setup process.

While free ISBNs are only available in the U.S. for now, we’re working around the clock to make free ISBNs available to our global community. For more information on purchasing an ISBN outside of the U.S., visit the International ISBN Agency's Website. 

Why would I purchase an ISBN when I can get a free one?

An ISBN is an expense many self-published authors are confused about. If you use a free ISBN with IngramSpark, your publisher imprint will not be associated with your book—it will hold IngramSpark’s imprint, Indy Pub. It may also limit where you can print and distribute your own title.

At IngramSpark, we believe it's in your best interest to be recognized as the owner of your work and a publisher in your own right, which is why we encourage publishers to purchase their own ISBNs. As part of our catalog integrity initiative, we require that ISBNs are valid and properly acquired.⁠ Each country has a single approved and designated agency that issues ISBNs for publishers and self-publishers located in that country. Bowker is the official ISBN agency for the US; Nielsen is the official ISBN agency for the UK and Ireland; Thorpe-Bowker is the official ISBN agency for Australia. IngramSpark does business in many other countries, so we encourage each customer to ensure they are acquiring their ISBN from their country’s approved ISBN Agency. To find the approved ISBN agency for your country click here. To learn more click here.

You can read more about ISBNs and the benefits of purchasing your own here.

Can I use my free ISBN on other platforms (KDP, Blurb, Bookbaby, etc.)?

Your free ISBN from IngramSpark will only be able to be associated with your title on IngramSpark. Listing the same book with different ISBNs or EANs on multiple websites or with multiple distributors may confuse retailers and consumers wanting to purchase your book. This is also why you can’t use free ISBNs associated with your book from other platforms on IngramSpark.

What happens if I use a free ISBN now and later decide I want to own my own? 

If you use a free ISBN and later decide you want to own the ISBN, you will have to set up the book as a new or revised title and purchase a different ISBN for the book.

*Please note that a free ISBN cannot be used with a free title setup promo code. Any title with a free ISBN must be placed in our wholesale distribution program. Pricing for at least one market is required and the book will be available for sale through each market pricing is provided for. ISBN cannot be transferred to another account in the future.