ISBNs – What are ISBNs and why do you need them?
(Information taken from the Neilsens ISBN Store website)
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique product identifier for books and related material. Whilst it is not a legal requirement to allocate ISBNs to your books, it is used by publishers, booksellers and libraries for ordering, listing and stock control purposes. It enables them to identify a particular publisher and allows the publisher to identify a specific edition of a specific title in a specific format within their output. Systems used by publishers, booksellers and libraries all rely on the ISBN to identify books ensuring they select and stock the correct title and edition.
For authors based in the UK, Ireland or a British Overseas Territory you can purchase your ISBNs from
If you are going to publish only one book in only one format, the single ISBN will be enough. If you plan to publish more than one book, or to publish a revised edition of the original, or if you are going to publish your book in different formats (such as paperback and e-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.
Copyright and British Library Legal Deposits
(Information taken from the British Library Legal Deposit Website)
For all published works and as part of authors copyright copies of your book should be sent to the British National Library and the five other Legal deposit Libraries for deposit in line with the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 and the Copyright and Related Act, 2000 – 2019.
Legal Deposit helps ensure that a nation’s published output is collected and preserved for the future. As a published author, this means that your content will be securely preserved while also being made accessible in the reading rooms of the Legal Deposit Libraries. Inclusion in library catalogues, online discovery services and the British National Bibliography will help promote these publications, highlighting them to a worldwide audience, including the book trade. Preserving publications representing all authors, communities and interest groups is a key aim of Legal Deposit. Sending us your publications will help enable future research into all aspects of our culture and society.
There are six libraries in the UK Legal Deposit system, providing greater protection and preservation by having copies of publications at more than one location:
The British Library
The Bodleian Library Oxford University National Library of Wales
Cambridge University Library The Library of Trinity College Dublin
Published authors must supply a copy to the British Library, and five copies to the Agency for Legal Deposit Libraries (ALDL) for distribution to the five other Legal Deposit Libraries.
Public Lending Right for Published Authors
(Information taken from the Public Lending Right Website)
If you are a published author, don’t forget to register for your Public Lending Right
If your printed books and audio-books are borrowed from UK public libraries you may be eligible for payment through the government-funded Public Lending Right scheme.
- All you have to do is apply to the PLR office for registration and provide details of your books.
Writers, illustrators, photographers, editors, translators, narrators, producers and abridgers can apply. Where there is more than one contributor to a book the PLR is shared.
- Anyone resident in the UK or in any of the other countries within the European Economic Area can apply.
- The amount payable is based on the estimated number of times registered books are borrowed nationally during the PLR year (1 July – 30 June).
- Payments are made annually each February. (There were over 22,000 recipients in 2018 of payments between £1 and £6,600.)
- There are no joining or membership fees.
- Applications on behalf of a deceased author are not permitted.
Please visit the website www.bl.uk/plr
or telephone +44 (0) 1937 546030 for further information