ISBNs and Distribution


Self-publishing gives authors the opportunity to become published without the need to have to go through a literary agent or a traditional publisher and in many cases self-publishing might well be the right choice for many writers and prove to be a very satisfying experience. Many authors realise that their chosen subject matter may not appeal to a wide market and understand that self-publishing is an appropriate route to guarantee that their work is published and made available to the global readership.


When publishing on Amazon, there are two ISBN options available for self-published authors; the first is a free ISBN assigned by Amazon, the second is the author’s own ISBN purchased from NIELSEN.




Once your content is published on the KDP website, will assign it a free 10-digit ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) which is unique to the eBook, and a free Amazon ISBN for the printed edition which enables your book to be sold.


When your book is self-published on Amazon, both editions (e-book and printed edition) will be available to customers all over the world from Amazon’s website. It’s worth noting that the printed version, with its free Amazon ISBN will be exclusive to Amazon’s website and available only through them but please keep in mind that they have more than 70% of the world’s book selling trade.


Also remember that Amazon provide apps so that the books can be downloaded to almost every e-book device – iPhone, iPad, android and so on, further heightening the appeal of purchasing on Amazon. One of the biggest advantages of Amazon publication on KDP AMAZON is that books are published there indefinitely.




An author’s own NIELSEN ISBN, purchased from the NIELSEN ISBN agency, can also be used when publishing on KDP AMAZON.


It is not essential to have an NIELSEN ISBN, but if you intend to sell your book using traditional book retailers, bookshops or via a website, in addition to selling your book through Amazon book stores, it is necessary. The British Library, other libraries, book wholesalers and bookshops use the NIELSEN ISBN as a unique reference number to record information about the book on their computer systems and they don’t consider titles that have been allocated with a free Amazon ISBN.


NIELSEN ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) are obtained from the NIELSEN UK ISBN agency. Having your own NIELSEN ISBN number means that YOU own all the rights associated with your book.


You can organise this yourself if you choose to do so, by contacting NIELSEN directly at :


NIELSEN sell either a single ISBN (£89.00 per ISBN) or a Prefix for 10 ISBNs (£159.00 per block of 10).


If you are going to publish only one book in only one format, the single ISBN will be enough to meet your needs. If however, you plan to publish your book in different formats (such as paperback and e-book), publish a revised edition of your book(s), or publish more than one book, you will need a different ISBN for each version and each format, so ten ISBNs would be more suitable. Unused ISBNs remain valid indefinitely.

We help our authors to go through the rather complex and technical process with NIELSEN for a symbolic fee of £99.


This service includes the following:

  1. We buy a new ISBN (or block of ISBNs) from NIELSEN and register it to the author’s name.
  2. We register the book title with NIELSEN BookData which helps authors sell books by making sure booksellers have the most accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date information available about your title(s). For this, Nielsen requires the type of information that helps identify, find, order and sell your books.
  3. The author’s ISBN will be used for the title when publishing on KDP AMAZON.
  4. We will ensure that an author’s new ISBN and barcode will be included on the back cover of the paperback edition.


Our invoice will include both our fee (£99) and the cost of purchasing the ISBN from NIELSEN (either a single ISBN or a pack of 10).

If you wish to take advantage of this offer, please let us know when submitting your work for publication.