A blog about writing and self publishing

KWL Author Service Introduces ISBN Purchase

By Hufsa TahirCapture

If you’ve checked out the Author Services tab on your KWL Dashboard, you will have seen the array of services we hope to offer (and some that we already do). We’ve been launching them one service at a time. If you click on the “Request Details” button on each Service, you’ll receive an email with us containing more details about what stage that specific Service is in.

Recently, we’ve launched one we hope will be beneficial to our US friends—ISBN Purchase for US Authors.

KWL’s ISBN Purchase Service for US Authors

We’ve partnered with Bowker, the official U.S. ISBN Agency, to offer ISBNs for KWL authors at a special discount. You can now purchase a single ISBN for $100 USD (a $25 discount off the full price).

Please note: you must be based in the United States to purchase an ISBN from Bowker. This is a legal stipulation, as there is only one agency per country that can distribute ISBNs.


To purchase, go to the Author Services section of your dashboard and let us know you’re interested by hitting the “Request Details” button. We will then provide you with all the information needed to get your special discounted ISBN from Bowker.

For non-US authors, you can look up the agencies that sell or distribute ISBNs in various countries here.

What is an ISBN?

ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a 13-digit number that functions as a key identifier for your book. No other book will ever have that same ISBN.

Why do I need an ISBN?

When you’re selling your book across various retailers and on multiple platforms, an ISBN helps you keep your information consistent. An ISBN can tell you the name of a book, its publisher, and what edition it is (paperback, epub, mobi, audiobook, etc.). It is a global standard, used by everyone in the business of selling or buying books to identify a title: from librarians to retailers, wholesalers, and distributors.

Unsurprisingly, many retailers demand that you have an ISBN of your own before they will sell your book. Currently, however, KWL does not require an author to have their own ISBN to publish with us.

Does Kobo Writing Life give out ISBNs?

No, we do not. The ID you see that is automatically attached to any KWL title without its own ISBN is actually not an ISBN at all.

What the KWL ID looks like:


What a real ISBN looks like:


For a detailed look into ISBNs and how they benefit your book sales, visit this great article by The Book Designer. As an added bonus, here’s a brief look at what the different numbers in an ISBN and a book barcode mean.


R.R. Bowker LLC is the exclusive ISBN Registration Agency for the United States. You must be based in the United States to purchase an ISBN from the link above. Kobo is facilitating Bowker’s assignment of single ISBNs, and makes no representations about the accuracy of content on the Bowker website. All single ISBN assignments are subject to the ISBN Terms of Use and the ISBN standards.  

13 Responses to “KWL Author Service Introduces ISBN Purchase”

  1. Jon Guenther

    It’s great that KWL’s now providing this service to authors, and that it’s discounted! However, I still think ISBN costs are ridiculous. Self-publishers and indie authors don’t typically have the fiscal capacity to buys ISBNs, especially not since one is required for each version of a book. It should also be noted that bar codes from Bowker entail additional costs. I look forward to the day we can actually afford ISBNs, but in the meantime it’s nice to know KWL has made an effort to at least get discounts for its authors.

  2. giovanni

    It’s too too too too expensive for just one ISBN code and the service is just for US residents. Absolutely unuseful. How many books I have to sell to get back that money? Too much. There is no much sense to buy ISBNs code at that price.

  3. cliftonhhill

    I think having an ISBN for an ebook has been pretty thoroughly debunked as being pointless.

    • Kobo Writing Life

      We also provide Kobo ISBNs when you publish with Kobo.

      • Joseph Skinkis

        Can I also put my book on Kobo if I am om Amazon already?

        • Kobo Writing Life

          We don’t have any exclusivity requirements for Kobo Writing Life. You can publish with us and with any other retailers!

    • Kobo Writing Life

      Hi Marie, the ISBN is yours once you purchase it so you can use your own publisher name.

  4. ISBN vs ASIN – The Aspiring Writer

    […] but it makes it easier to be noticed in the outside retailer world.  Some publishers like Kobo will offer you an ISBN at a reduced rate ($100).  Others, like Barnes and Nobles, will provide one […]


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