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In this section you will learn how to purchase a private ISBN in Australia.
ISBN in Australia
Thorpe-Bowker is the official agent for ISBNs in Australia.
To purchase one or more ISBNs, start by going to the Thorpe-Bowker website. Their web address is:
On the Thorpe-Bowker welcome page, click the ‘Sign in/Register’ option located in the top, right hand corner of the screen:
On the next screen you have the option of signing in or creating a new account. Click the blue ‘Register’ button:
You should now see an option for ‘I am a new customer’:
Below it, there is a message from Thorpe-Bowker saying that new customers will have to pay a one-off fee of $55 before they can purchase an ISBN. This is a relatively new fee and meant to cover the setting up of your account.
As Thorpe-Bowker is the only company selling ISBNs in Australia, there is now way of finding a better deal. Those who only intend to sell through Amazon’s standard distribution channels may prefer to use one of their free ISBNs instead.
Those who wish to purchase print copies from the Australian branch of IngramSpark [located in Melbourne] will have to purchase their own ISBN as the KDP ISBN is only valid for KDP.
To continue, click the blue ‘I am a new Bowker Customer’ button.
Next up you will be asked to fill in a registration form. This is pretty standard with mandatory fields marked with a red asterisk. One of those fields is ‘Organisation Type’.
If you’re a self-publisher, don’t worry. Click on the small arrow next to ‘Organisation Type’ and you will see a drop down list which includes the option for ‘Self Publisher’ :
Click the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ button for promotional material and then complete the registration process by clicking the green ‘I Accept – Create My Account!’ button.
Once your registration is complete, return to the Thorpe-Bowker website and click Buy ISBNs & Identifiers on the main screen. Then select ‘Buy ISBNs’ from the drop down list:
Note: the option for ‘Buy ISBNs in Bulk’ will take you to a login screen for ‘VIPs’ who may buy ISBNs in their hundreds.
Next, you will be shown a page of sales options. Select the option/product of your choice by clicking the appropriate ‘Add to Cart’ button:
Bowker will display a summary of your order:
Click the blue ‘Checkout’ button.
The Checkout is fairly standard except for the fact that the only payment option appears to be Paypal:
This is rather misleading as there is, in fact, an option to pay by credit card, but you do it as a Paypal ‘Guest’.
Click the ‘Submit Order’ button and you will be shown the following screen:
To pay with your credit card, click the ‘Pay with a Card’ button.
You will now see a Paypal screen something like this:
Fill in the required details and complete your purchase.
You will now be returned to Thorpe-Bowker and a summary screen:
Note: you are under no obligation to take the survey.
To assign your new ISBN, click ‘My Account’ as shown above and select ‘My Identifiers/ISBN dashboard’ from the menus.
Assigning an ISBN to a book
You should now be looking at a screen that displays information about your ISBN[s] :
The screenshot shows a number of ISBNs, all of them unassigned – i.e. not yet linked to an actual book.
To link an ISBN to your book, click ‘Assign Title’ opposite the ISBN you wish to use.
Note: once assigned, ISBNs cannot be re-assigned.
You will now have to enter information about the book assigned to that ISBN:
The first thing to note before you begin filling in the Bowker forms is that you only have to enter information in the fields marked with a red asterisk, such as ‘Book Title’ above.
The second is that you do not have to upload the cover of your book at all.
This is important because you will need an ISBN before you can finalise the cover of your book. It is needed to generate the barcode provided by both KDP and IngramSpark. These barcodes are generated for free so you only have to purchase barcodes from Thorpe-Bowker if you intend to publish with a company that doesn’t provide a barcode.
Finally, the default view is Basic – i.e. only the most commonly used fields are displayed:
If you need to enter details not shown on the Basic view, you may wish to change to the Advanced view which contains all available fields.
To begin entering information about your book, click in the field marked ‘Book Title’ and type the name of your book. This is a mandatory field.
Medium refers to the book’s material composition – i.e. whether it is a print book, an ebook, or an audio book.
Select ‘Print’ from the drop down list.
Format refers to the type of print book – i.e. hardcover or paperback.
Select ‘Paperback’ from the drop down list.
Subjects & Genres
Subjects & Genres refers to the category of book you intend to publish. You can select two genres, but only one is mandatory.
Select the most appropriate genre for your book from the drop down list:
Authors & Contributors
Contributor 1 is the author. As an Individual, the author’s full name and suffix may be entered, but only the ‘Last Name’ is mandatory.
Type your Last Name and as much other information as you wish to enter.
The next mandatory field is ‘Function’. It refers to the role the Contributor played in the creation of the book. The only checkbox that needs to be ticked is that of ‘Author’.
When to add another Author or Contributor
As a general rule:
- If you co-authored a book with another author, then that author’s name must be listed as a second Contributor.
- If you supplied material to an anthology, then all the other authors of that anthology must be listed as well.
- If the anthology was commissioned by an editor, then the editor’s name must be listed.
- If you wrote the text for an illustrated book – for example, a children’s book – the the illustrator must also be named as a Contributor.
- If the book was originally written in another language and translated into English, the translator must be named as a Contributor.
- If, however, you hired an editor to ‘clean up’ the book and a designer to create the cover, you do not have to name them as Contributors.
Sales & Pricing
There are four mandatory fields in this final section: Publication Date, Target Audience, Title Status and Book Price.
As the ISBN is needed in order to publish the book, there are two possible ways of interpreting this field.
- the publication date is notional – i.e. a date in the near future when you intend to officially publish the book, or
- it refers to the original publication date of the book. For example, let’s say you publish a non-fiction book in 2010. Ten years later you revise and update that book and publish it as a second edition. Each edition of a book requires its own ISBN, but the publication date of the book points back to the publication of the first edition.
Clicking the Help icon produces this explanation from Bowker:
Unless your book is specifically designed for one of the listed targets, click the option for ‘Trade’. Trade refers to trade paperbacks and is the general purpose classification.
Clicking the small down arrow opposite this field causes a drop down list to display:
‘Active Record’ is the status of any book that is [or soon will be] for sale.
Note: if the book is not due to be published for a substantial period of time – e.g. a year – ‘Forthcoming’ would be more appropriate.
As a self-publisher, you may want to vary the price of your book for marketing purposes. Or you may sell it to a number of different market places with different currencies/price points. For all these reasons, you do not want to be tied to one price in Bowker’s records.
Click the option for ‘Write for info [No set price or free] as shown:
When you have finished, click the green Submit button.
Bowker will display a congratulations screen and that will be that. If you click on My Identifiers, you will now see your book linked to the ISBN.
You can now type the ISBN into the Copyright page of your book and submit it to KDP or IngramSpark for the barcode on the cover.
Note: Be sure to copy the ISBN for your book exactly as it is shown, including hyphens.
Log out from Thorpe-Bowker.
In the next section we will look at the National Library of Australia, Legal Deposit requirement.