Ebook aggregator Draft2digital is now offering free ISBNs for all books through its distribution service.
The firm will automatically assign an ISBN to any book published through their system unless you provide one of your own.
D2D says the free ISBN deal will mean they can distribute books to more channels and to make those books more discoverable for readers.
The ISBN recording agency will consider Draft2Digital as “publisher of record” for any ISBN it own, but that does not give it any rights to your work and all D2D’s sales channels will continue to show the publisher name chosen.
You can’t use the Draft2Digital ISBN through other distributors or direct with the retailers and the ISBN cannot be changed after a book is published.
Authors and publishers can still use their own ISBN rather than the D2D service.
Rival distributor Smashwords has been offering its own free ISBNs since 2010. Authors/publishers have the choice of having no ISBN, using their own ISBN or a free ISBN from Smashwords that registers Smashwords as the publisher in the same way as with D2D. The author still controls all the rights associated with their book.
Smashwords did also offer a Premium ISBN service at $9.95 in the US only, which registered the author or publisher as the publisher in the ISBN record and listed Smashwords as the distributor but this has been discontinued.
An ISBN isn’t a requirement for ebooks but if you do use an ISBN you can’t use it across different ebook formats or different distributors.
Amazon does not require or offer an ISBN for its Kindle ebook publishing service as it assigns each book an ASIN (Amazon Standard Indentification Number). Amazon does offer a free ISBN for print books with its Createspace service.
Apple did require ISBNs to publish books at the iBookstore but changed this policy last summer so it no longer insists on ISBNs but does recommend them.
Kobo doesn’t require an ISBN for books uploaded through its Writing Life service but advises authors/publishers to have one as some of its international partners do require an ISBN so the book would have wider distribution. Kobo adds its own product identifier to each book.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press also doesn’t require an ISBN for ebooks and assigns a unique identifier, known as the BN ID, to a book when it is put on sale in the Nook store. You can use your own ISBN but Nook will also add its BN ID.