ASIN, UPC, ISBN number – The Quick and Easy Explanation.
The ASIN, UPC, ISBN number systems are often a source of confusion for self-publishers. Star Print Brokers is an authorized agent for ISBN and we can sell one ISBN at a time. If you need more than one, it is more cost effective to buy a pack of 10 directly from ISBN.
Books use an ISBN number and a specific style barcode. But, who is the publisher of your book?
ISBN Number for Books
The International Standard Book Number, also called an ISBN number, is a unique commercial book identifier. Do not confuse it with an ASIN. Each ISBN identifies a book. Therefore, if a book is for sale as an ebook and a soft cover, then you will need two ISBNs. The ISBN has 13 digits. Any ISBN bought before January 1, 2007 has 10 digits.
The ISBN is necessary to buy a barcode, so clerks can scan the book in bookstores and purchase books for the bookstore, through the database. The barcode is printed on the back cover, in the lower right hand corner, and a sample of an ISBN barcode made specifically for a book is in the image above.
If you use an on-demand service, do you actually get your book into brick-and-mortar bookstores, or just have access to those bookstores? We have a secret for you. If you have your own ISBN and barcode, you already have access to brick-and-mortar bookstores. You are in the database already.
ASIN by Amazon
ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Identification Numbers. The ASIN contains 10 letters and / or numbers that identify an Amazon product. For Amazon’s purposes, a book’s ASIN is the same as the ISBN number. Yet, if you are selling books in a bookstore, an author or self-publisher needs their own ISBN, not an ASIN.
UPC for Store Merchandise
The UPC, or Universal Product Code, is a 12-digit barcode used on retail goods for sale stores in the USA. You will find the UPC code on an object or package for sale in a grocery store, as an example. A UPC code contains the name and brand of the product, and the price. The UPC doesn’t contain all the information that bookstores use.
A word of caution about Print On-Demand
Buy the ISBN and barcode yourself, as you should be the publisher of your book. That way, you retain all profits. If an on-demand publisher provides the ISBN, they are the publisher. You will receive only royalties, which are less than the profit you could be making. Also, they are the publisher of record, and that means you are not. Read terms and conditions.
Caution about an Unscrupulous ISBN seller
We are aware of a situation about an author who buys an ISBN from a person for $40, and that is a huge red flag for us! The author goes back to the person to ask the all important question, “Who is the publisher of my book?” Our author also has the barcode scanned to see details, and sure enough, he’s not the publisher! The name of the seller shows up on the scan. Now he would be the publisher of our client’s book!
The author confronts the seller, who says, “It would be okay”. Folks, it’s not “okay.” You should pay $125 for one ISBN number, and that is whether you buy it from Star Print Brokers or ISBN.org. We get a slight discount off that price, but it’s not even close to $40.
An added note about QR Code Resolution
There are tons of places to get QR codes. Here are a few things to remember:
- The QR code needs to be high resolution for printing, 300 pixels per inch, and at the size it will appear in the book.
- JPG, or if the image background needs transparency, a PNG.
- Black and white, not RGB or CMYK.
- Forward it to us or the book designer.
- Don’t make the changes yourself.
- Always test the QR code before printing.
In conclusion, make sure to get an ISBN and a barcode with your ISBN number, and most of all, be careful about where you buy it.