ISBN book barcodes


    Please click the [ Mark Complete ] button at the bottom of this page when you’ve completed these goals: 

  • Understand the difference between an ISBN number and ISBN barcode, and advise customers on where to obtain the former
  • Understand the ordering process for ISBN barcodes
  • Explain the purpose of (optionally) encoding price codes on the end of ISBN numbers.
  • State the limitations of EAN 5 price codes, and why it is not common global practice for barcodes to have these price codes.
  • Be able to explain to customers how they can request EAN 5 price codes when completing their barcode order.


Summary of relevant information for customers / authors:

All books use International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN), which are obtained through a designated organisation in each country.

Many authors confuse an ISBN Number with an ISBN Barcode.
The ISBN Number is a regulated, globally-unique number assigned by the designated ISBN organisation per country. It is used to uniquely identify books, eBooks, tapes, and CDs and editions of these (not magazines).

The ISBN Barcode is an optional printable image that encodes an ISBN Number in order to be physically-scannable at a retail checkout.

When is an ISBN barcode required?
If the product is only digital, the customer needs the ISBN Number, but doesn’t need a physical barcode. If the product includes a physical version such as a printable book, the customer needs to first obtain an ISBN Number and then purchase a corresponding ISBN Barcode. Typically this barcode is included in the printed design for a product, so it needs to be added before going to print (authors must allow time for this). Our ISBN barcodes are generated automatically based on the ISBN number provided at checkout.


Question to ask querying customers:

For ordering – do you have an ISBN Number already?

  • NO:

If you don’t have an ISBN number, then you’ll need to get an ISBN Number first.

You can apply for an ISBN number from the designated ISBN organisation for your country (you can search for your local ISBN organisation on the ISBN International website).

If you live in the UK or Ireland, you can get ISBN numbers from our sister company the Independent Publishing Network.

  • YES:

If you already have an ISBN number (but no barcode images for it), then you can simply order the barcode images for it.

You’ll be asked to enter your ISBN number into the ‘additional information’ section when you get to the checkout page.

Your ISBN number will be automatically turned into barcode images, and emailed to you immediately.

You will receive your ISBN barcode images immediately by Email in 5 different formats.

You can choose which barcode format you prefer, and insert the barcode picture into the design for the cover of your book before printing.


What are the optional Price Codes?

ISBN Numbers can also be encoded with 5-digit price codes (EAN 5) on the end of them.

Price Codes:

0 (or 1) = GBP
3 = AUD
4 = NZD
5 = USD
6 = CAD

For example, to encode $9.99 USD, the EAN 5 would be 50999:


These price codes will be picked up by some scanners and can make it easier for retailers to establish the recommended retail price for books.


  • These codes can encode a price of up to 99.99
  • They encode in these currencies only: GBP, USD, CAD, AUD, NZD.
  • Most scanners do not read this code at all so it is not common practice for ISBN numbers to have this price code.

If a customer requests a price code, this can be done in barcode studio. If you don’t have barcode studio yet, send and email to [email protected] and we will make the ISBN barcodes with price code for you. Customers will usually request this either via the order notes when ordering, or through email/online chat.