Customer Support: 1-877-310-7333
FAQs: Ownership and Re-usage Rights
Can an ISBN be reused?
If one company buys another, can the buyer use the ISBNs or do they have to get new ISBNs?
I got my ISBN from my printer and now I want to make sure it’s in my name, how do I transfer the ISBN?
If more than one publisher or self-publisher is publishing a book, whose ISBN goes on the book?
What can be done when a book is printed with the wrong ISBN?
Can I use one of my friend’s (or relative’s) ISBNs?
If a spouse or family member passes away, can a relative or surviving spouse use the remaining ISBNs?
If an author gets the publishing rights back, does the original publisher’s ISBN remain?
Can a publisher keep the same prefix when ordering additional ISBNs?
Can ISBNs be assigned according to access rights?

Can an ISBN be reused?
No, once a title is published with an ISBN on it, the ISBN can never be used again. Even if a title goes out of print, the ISBN cannot be reused since the title continues to be catalogued by libraries and traded by used booksellers.
Back to top

If one company buys another, can the buyer use the ISBNs or do they have to get new ISBNs?
The company being bought can have all its ISBNs transferred to the new owner. If the company is a subdivision or subsidiary of the new company, it can maintain its own unique ISBN prefix. If the company being bought is being demoted to an imprint (a brand) with no legal standing of its own, then the new parent company can use the ISBNs at will for any title it publishes.
Back to top

I got my ISBN from my printer and now I want to make sure it’s in my name, how do I transfer the ISBN?
ISBNs cannot be transferred on an individual basis. If a self-publisher wants to be identified as the publisher, the self-publisher must get their own ISBN. A printing company or publisher services company cannot sell, give away or transfer one of their ISBNs to a customer.
Back to top

If more than one publisher or self-publisher is publishing a book, whose ISBN goes on the book?
The publisher handling order fulfillment places their ISBN on the book. However, both publishers are entitled to put their ISBNs on the book in the case of a jointly published publication.
Back to top

What can be done when a book is printed with the wrong ISBN?
A new, unused ISBN must be assigned to the book, stickers or labels made and placed on the books, and all industry databases updated with the new, correct ISBN.
Back to top

Can I use one of my friend’s (or relative’s) ISBNs?
No.
Back to top

If a spouse or family member passes away, can a relative or surviving spouse use the remaining ISBNs?
The ISBNs are considered property of the publishing company and all of the ISBNs can be transferred to the new owners, including a family member. The entire block of ISBNs is transferred to the new company owner(s). The block of ISBNs cannot be divided up among family members.
Back to top

If an author gets the publishing rights back, does the original publisher’s ISBN remain?
No, they do not have to be assigned, but they can be.
Back to top

Can a publisher keep the same prefix when ordering additional ISBNs?
No, once a block of ISBNs has been used up, a new prefix (a new block) is assigned. It is mathematically impossible to add more numbers to a block.
Back to top

Can ISBNs be assigned according to access rights?
Yes, if a product needs to be tracked in the supply chain for trading, discovery, and reporting, it can be assigned a separate ISBN. Assessing distinctions between access rights programs for customers requires separate reporting.
Back to top
Bowker is an affiliated business of ProQuest. | © 2014 R.R. Bowker LLC. All rights reserved. For support, please call us toll-free at 1-877-310-7333.
Contact Us | ISBN Terms of Use| Bowker Statement of Use | Privacy Policy
Home Buy ISBNs About ISBN About the ISBN standard History Industry Standards Helpful Links FAQs FAQs: General Questions FAQs: ISBN eligibility FAQs: International Issues FAQs: How Changes Affect the ISBN FAQs: Ownership and Re-Usage Rights FAQs: Formats Reprints Editions FAQs: ebooks and ISBNs FAQs: Spanish ISBN Converter SAN Lookup Contact Us