Self-Publish — Understanding ISBN’s, SAN’s, LCCN’s Or PCN’s

This post, by James  C. Tanner, originally appeared on his site on 1/17/11.

If you choose to self-publish your book, there are some custodial duties required before your book is ready to go to press.  These duties pertain to:


b.) the obtaining of a STANDARD ADDRESS NUMBER ( SAN );

c.) the obtaining of a LIBRARY OF CONGRESS NUMBER ( LCCN or PCN ).



The ISBN is often incorrectly referred to as “just a bar code” used for inventory control purposes.  It is a number and not a bar code.

Since the late 1960′s the ISBN has been in existence as a global identification system.  To help avoid errors in receiving orders, shipping,  etc. publishers and self-publishers have come to rely upon the ISBN number as each new edition of a book, and each particular style of publication (hard cover, soft cover, paperback, audio book, downloadable eBook, or CD) receives it’s own unique number.

ISBN numbers are obtained through the ISBN Agency which you can find at .

You will be required to assign each of your new titles an ISBN suffix number (this will be explained on the ISBN site).  The important detail new users need to remember is that you will need to assign a different ISBN to each edition of your book.  If this is the first time your book is going to market, then a standard practice among writers and publishers is to start your ISBN off with a “0″ (zero).  Most people in the book industry, upon seeing a zero as the first digit in an ISBN will immediately realize this is a new publication and not a re-release, or a new-edition of an older version.

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The above is an example of an ISBN combined with a Bar Code as it appears on the back of a paperback novel from Louis L’Amour’s book, Lonely On The Mountain published by Bantam Books.

The bar code as we see above communicates several key bits of information.  The bar code:

a.) identifies the ISBN;

b.) identifies the publisher (or self-publisher);

c.) identifies the title;

d.) identifies the author;

e.) identifies the edition.

Read the rest of the post on James C. Tanner‘s site.

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