Printing my Self-published Book: ISBN and CIP

Welcome to Wednesday and another one of Trish’s Tidbits. Now that we’ve covered the gazillions of decisions you need to make about the look and feel of your book, Trish will talk numbers – ISBN numbers and CIP data.

What is an ISBN?

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies each specific edition of a book or book-like product. This 13-digit number is divided into five parts of variable length; each part is separated by a hyphen or space.

The five parts of an ISBN, in order, are:

* the EAN (European article number) product code: the first three digits of the EAN bar code number;

* the group identifier: a single digit following the EAN product code that specifies the country or language in which the book is published;

* the publisher prefix: a number that identifies a particular publisher within the preceding group;

* the title identifier: a number that identifies a particular title or edition of a title issued by the preceding publisher;

* the check digit: a single digit at the end of the ISBN that validates the accuracy of the ISBN.

Definition courtesy of

An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) identifies a title and its publisher. ISBNs are issued by individual agencies in each country that adheres to the standard. In the United States, you can contact In Canada, ISBNs can be acquired through Library and Archives Canada.

Do I have to get an ISBN?

You’re under no obligation to get an ISBN; however, marketing your book will be difficult without one, as industry sales and distribution systems depend on them.

You need to join CISS [Canadian ISBN Service System]to be able to receive an ISBN. You can do so either by visiting their website, which is their preferred method, or by contacting them directly if you do not have access to the internet: The National Library of Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON, Phone: (819)997-7517, Email:

Library and Archives Canada is the official Canadian ISBN Registry. The application process is simple and FREE of charge. They ask that you join so that they can better have all of your information available in their system.

If you are formatting your own book:

Your book’s ISBN should be printed on both the copyright page and the lower right hand corner of the back cover. The font size should be between 9 and 12 points. Dust jackets should contain the ISBN on the upper edge of the left-hand flap. And, if your product includes a disk or cassette, the ISBN should be printed on that label, too.

Every edition of your title should have a separate ISBN number. A hardcover copy should have a different ISBN than the soft cover. An audio version should have a different number again. If you change the cover of your book, or if you make significant changes to it, you should use a new ISBN.

What is CIP?

Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) is a voluntary program of cooperation between publishers and libraries. It enables the cataloguing of books before they are published, and the prompt distribution of this cataloguing information to booksellers and libraries. The Canadian CIP Program is coordinated.

Definition courtesy of

Canadian self-publishers should consider registering their cataloguing in publication (CIP) data. This is a voluntary program of cooperation between publishers and libraries, and a free service in Canada. Coordinated by Library and Archives Canada, the program catalogues your book before it is published, and promptly distributes the cataloguing information to booksellers and libraries.

CIP data registration not only boosts awareness of your work among booksellers and libraries, it can also provide additional proof of your copyright. You’ll be issued a registration number and date, which, when printed as part of your book’s copyright page, is valuable evidence of your copyright claim. The registration process is complete once your book is printed, and you submit samples of your book for archiving in the CIP system.

To obtain your CIP data, please go to

What do I do with the CIP data once I have it?

Your CIP data should be placed on your copyright page only, and in the format and placement that Collections Canada instructs that it should be in.

Trish Romanchuk is the manager of the Book Division for Blitzprint Inc. For more information on their book printing products and services, please visit their website, or contact Trish directly at

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