ISBNism in India


ISBN or International Standard Book Number for a book is a serial id or an identification number for your book. Either a publisher or a self published author can apply for it. You need to have an ISBN to display your books in online ( or offline distribution portals (bookstores). However, for ebooks, you have different serial numbers. And, magazines/journals need an ISSN number, which is constant through all the volumes  which is easier to procure. However, each issue of the magazine needs a new ISBN number.

Before applying for an ISBN, have your book cover  and a virtual space for your work (like a blog) ready.

In India, you do not have to pay for obtaining an ISBN.  That’s the good part and perhaps the only good part. The HRD Ministry in India deals with it. Procuring an ISBN is as tedious a job as acquiring a landline connection in the early 80s. You have to wait for months.

If you live in Delhi, you can coolly walk up to them and things will be done easily but if you live down south or elsewhere then you have to be ready for months. At least as per my experience.

Before, heading to a friend in Delhi, try these.

1. Email: This rarely works but nevertheless, do try.

My experience: When I had emailed them it bounced back and then after a thorough research, I procured other email ids.

These are the email ids you can try:

In my case after a looooong wait, Mr. Raghavender replied

2. Landline number: They provide a landline number which is available only on weekdays and on non-public holidays.

My experience: I ended calling mostly on public holidays..some time even on Nagpanchmi. After looking up for a public calender list and calling up one day, some one picked up the phone. I was so overwhelmed, I did not say anything for a few seconds. Finally, I told them I needed the ISBN number. They diverted my to another call and the loop of alternate numbers never stopped.

3. Don’t lose hope. I applied for an ISBN at least three times to date for Nivasini Publishers and everytime a different mode of communication assisted me. Plus, this is post on how to apply for an ISBN helped me.

The ISSN department is fast and response.

Before applying for ISSN, you need to have at least one issue ready – if print, a copy and if online, an issue on your web site. You can check this website for further details.

The post is not meant to discourage but to mirror the current scenario so that one can plan accordingly.






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