Author Resource: Make a Mark with the Free ISBN Barcode Generator 🦓

Okay, you have applied for an ISBN and got it. Is that the same as the barcode?

ISBN vs Barcode 😕

Barcode is simply a machine-readable version of some information, in case of books the information being the ISBN and/or MRP, so the question of a difference between the two does not arise.

Remember that you need to apply for an ISBN from an agency first and then create the barcode by entering this number into the barcode generator. Random numbers that are entered into a barcode generator won’t provide a valid ISBN.

Having a barcode is a must if the book is going to physical bookstores since this makes it easier for sellers to identify it. For books sold primarily online i.e. eBooks, it doesn’t play much of a role, so it is up to the author whether they need to add a barcode or not.

The barcode is typically placed on the right-hand side of the back cover of a paperback or hardcover.

How Do You Generate your Barcode?

It’s easy. There are multiple free barcode generators online. The Free Barcode Generator | Cognex is easy to use.

Just select the ISBN Code category.

screengrab of ISBN option selection
Select ISBN option

Fill out the 13-digit ISBN.

screengrab of how to download barcode ater entering ISBN
Enter the ISBN and download the barcode

Generate your barcode!

Free Barcode Generator: Recommended or Not?



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5 Common Mistakes Authors and Self-publishers Make While Assigning ISBNs to their Books

It’s not enough getting the International Standard Book Number (ISBN). This numeric identifier that contains thirteen digits needs to be properly understood before you add it to your book. In this article, we look at five common misconceptions that people have about these much-coveted ISBNs.

                                                     Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. Using the same ISBN across different titles
An ISBN doesn’t represent an author, so you can’t use the same ISBN across all your titles. It is even more specific than a single title.

2. Using the same ISBN across eBook and print book
ISBN not only represents a title but also a specific format and edition of the book. It cannot be shared between eBook and print versions of even the same title.

3. Using the same ISBN in paperback and hard cover
Even using the same ISBN for different formats of print books is incorrect. Paperback and hard cover must have different ISBNs.

4. Using the same ISBN across different editions
An ISBN has to be unique to a specific format of a specific title. It also has to be unique to a specific edition. If a new edition of a book is being brought out, it can’t reuse the previous edition’s ISBN. Reprinting with the same ISBN is fine. This concept, however, runs into some trouble with print on demand since you can keep making small changes in the books all the time.

At what point does a book deserve to be called a new edition? When you make significant changes,  calling it a new edition and assigning a new ISBN will be good from a marketing perspective. Another recommendation we have is if your changes are significant enough that they change the physical specifications of the book like the number of pages or page size, then you should treat this as a different edition and assign a new ISBN.

5. Using the same ISBN across different country editions
Even if the content is the same, if you are creating different editions to sell at different prices in different countries, you should use different ISBNs for them. ‘Price change’, as such, does not require changing the ISBN. But having two differently priced editions at different places at the same time is not exactly a price change. It is really two different editions. Keeping the ISBN the same across differently priced editions can also create confusion in the listing of your book on online stores. So, use two different ISBNs in such cases.


Let us know if you have any ISBN related queries that haven’t been answered.


The much hyped ISBN

We often get queries which desperately ask whether we can assign ISBN to their books. Some others almost seem to say that its their dream to publish their book with an ISBN.

We have not quite been able to figure out what image of the ISBN an average self-publisher carries. Still, before we proceed on this topic further, let me clarify this about the ISBN. ISBN is a useful thing, but it is not something you need to dream about. It is just a number to help cataloging of the books worldwide. You don’t have to do something to ‘qualify’ for it. You just need to approach the right people with the details of your book and they will issue you an ISBN. Do not get psyched out by the information on the Internet, mostly put up by the parties with financial interest, which make ISBN seem like a prestigious award for your book. Its not!

The above is particularly true of India. In many other countries, you will need to pay to a reseller to get an ISBN for your book. In India, ISBN is handled by a government agency. In an effort to promote the adoption of ISBN, they issue it for free.

For more information on what the ISBN is, assignment of ISBN and how to get one for your self published book in India, read the following excerpt from our Self Publishing Guide.


ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, a unique code that can be assigned to a book. This is a system developed and adopted by the International Organisation for Standardisation to uniquely identify each published book.

Assignment of ISBN

Each country has their designated ISBN agency which is responsible for allotment of ISBNs for the books published in their country. In some countries there are also resellers of ISBN apart from the agency. In India, the only agency authorised to issue an ISBN is Raja Rammohan Roy National Agency for ISBN, which comes under Ministry of Human Resource Department. As of now, there are no authorised resellers of ISBN in India.

Who should get the ISBN

ISBNs are issued to publishers, who can then assign them to the books published by them. No one other than the publisher should assign an ISBN to the book. For a self publisher in India, it means that they should not get an ISBN from anybody except directly through the agency issued in his/her name. That would be the correct way of getting the ISBN. The process of getting an ISBN assigned is simple and it is explained later in this article.

Importance of ISBN

  • ISBN helps in compilation of published book in directories and bibliographic records.
  • It helps everyone in the distribution chain track the movement of the books.
  • It helps in collection of sales data of books.

In India, however, the ISBN is yet to be adopted by the majority and many parts of the distribution process are not automated. So, the real advantage of ISBN is not that high. However, if you want to go through the traditional distribution channels for your book, it would be useful to get an ISBN. Most organised and online retailers need an ISBN assigned for a book to be sold through them.

ISBN for Self Publishers in India

As mentioned earlier, ISBNs are given to publishers to assign to the books they publish. Earlier ISBNs were allotted only in blocks. But the good news is individual ISBNs can now be allotted to individuals who are self publishing. And getting an ISBN in India is free.

You need to send an application to the Raja Rammohan Roy National Agency for ISBN with the details of your book, photocopy of the cover page, identity proof and a self-addressed envelope for return communication. A template for ISBN application form is available on