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i am currently writing a book but would like to know if i can pre register an ISBN and Book title. I am little concerned someone might call their book the same as mine before i finish it. So i really want to secure the title/isbn. Are there any great website for doing this?

You help would really be appreciated for sure as i'm a novice when it comes to the publishing side. Thanks - Andy

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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Book titles are often duplicated quite by accident, and there is pretty much no way of preventing other people from publishing a book with the same title. It happens all the time, and as long as the title isn't something trademarked (like something in the Star Wars universe), it's generally not a problem.

I'd recommend you concentrate on writing the book, then when you have it ready for publication, search and see if the title is available. Don't get too hung up on the title - titles can change up to the last minute, and I understand it's not at all unusual for an editor or publisher to suggest a different title than the one you have in mind anyway.

You could register an ISBN, but that costs money, and again there's no good reason to do so before you absolutely need it. Especially since if you publish through a regular publisher, they'll take care of all of that anyway.

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Hi Michael i really appreciate your response, i'm very much new to publishing so what you say does make a lot of sense. I'm looking forward to completing the book. I have to say writing is so much fun :) thanks again - Andy –  user1738894 Oct 12 '12 at 8:06
As an ISBN includes a code that identifies the publisher, if you get your own ISBN, the company that ultimately published your book couldn't use it anyway. If you're planning to self-publish, sure, you could get an ISBN years before you publish. But as Michael says, why bother? If the title you have in mind is something that someone else might accidentally duplicate, then it's not distinctive enough to be worth worrying about. When you're ready to publish, come up with something else if your first idea is taken. –  Jay Feb 8 '13 at 20:43

My book, Writing The Science Fiction Film, is due out in April 2013 but it already has an ISBN number. I didn't deal with it my publisher MWP organised it, but it shows that it is possible to do. They've also told me that it will appear for pre-order on Amazon etc. very soon (this is 6 months in advance of publication date!) and it obviously will need one before that can happen.

Hope that helps.

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Sure that makes perfect sense. Pre-orders would be a major motivator and benefit before a book launch. Exposure is a great thing. Many thanks Robert. –  user1738894 Oct 12 '12 at 8:51
Your publisher likely has purchased a block of ISBNs already, so they can simply take one out of the lot and use it for the book you are working on. An individual author doesn't have a bunch of unused ISBNs floating around on their desk. –  Michael Kjörling Oct 12 '12 at 12:22
@Michael Kjörling, true. And you have to buy ISBNs in batches of 10 (I think), so they aren't cheap either –  Shantnu Tiwari Oct 12 '12 at 15:09
@Michael You don't "need" to have a bunch of extra ISBNs sitting in the drawer, but if you're in the US anyway, the way they are priced, it is cheaper to buy 10 all at once than to buy 3 one at a time. When I published my second book I bought 10, so now I have 9 available, ready for when I finally get my third book done. –  Jay Feb 8 '13 at 20:46
@Jay, what's their market price like? How much did you paid for 10? –  Pacerier May 13 '13 at 7:18

You HAVE to get an ISBN before you publish. The ISBN is printed on the cover of the book. The printer has to know what it is before they can print copies. The only question is HOW LONG before you publish. In practice, you probably will spend at least a few weeks, and maybe months, getting the layout and cover design nailed down, reviewing proof copies and maybe making minor touch-up changes, etc. I guess it's possible to get an ISBN the day before you publish, then you slap it on to your cover design and go to print. More often it will be weeks or months.

You COULD get an ISBN years in advance, but as @MichaelKone says, the reason you give, worrying that someone else will use your title, probably just isn't worth worrying about. If your title is so generic that someone else might just happen to use the same words, "Introduction to Chemistry" or "The Soldier" or something like that, it's probably not a good title. If you're creative enough to write a book, you should be creative enough to come up with a distinctive title. (I don't think J K Rowling was worried that someone else might call their own book "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" just by shear chance.) I don't think there's anything in "the system" to prevent duplicate titles, so even if you get yours in first, someone else could still duplicate it.

As to where you get an ISBN: Each country has one organization that is the designated registrar for ISBNs in that country. In the U.S., for example, it's Bowkers. You have to find out who the registrar is in your country. If you are self-publishing, you can get your own ISBN, though most if not all companies that print your book will give you a free ISBN. If you are publishing through a mainstream publisher, they will certainly assign their own ISBN, and any that you buy will just be a waste of time.

BTW There are services out there that advertise that they will get an ISBN for you for a small fee. I cannot imagine how this is a useful service worth paying for. Instead of filling out the form from the real registrar, you fill out a form from somebody else that they than copy to the registrar's form, and they charge you to do this. It has to have all the same information or how could it be processed?

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I just want to add that, at least in Denmark, getting any number of ISBN's is totally free of charge (well, up to a hundred numbers at least), and simple to do via their web site "". The rule seems to be that the ISBN country must follow the home country of the publisher. –  KlaymenDK Aug 12 at 12:50

Technically, you shouldn't need to purchase an ISBN at all, unless you are planning to publish the book yourself, including the printing. If the only reason you are even considering it is in the hopes of protecting your title, then an ISBN won't even do that for you. In that instance, the only benefit of an ISBN would be in helping libraries or other sources differentiate between two books with the same title.

If you decide to self-publish your book as a Kindle or Nook e-book, then you won't even need an ISBN, because each of those sources will assign their own unique identifiers for your book. You can still obtain an ISBN through them without having to pay for it, if you decide you really want one. Also, if you use a source such as CreateSpace to publish a print version of your book, they can provide you with an ISBN without you having to pay for it.

In any of these instances you can certainly buy your own ISBN, but unless you have a number of titles or want to represent yourself as a publisher, there really isn't any benefit in doing so.

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