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How do I get an ISBN Number?

Dave, I'm trying to publish my own book and just found out I need to get an ISBN. What is an ISBN, how do I get one, and how much does it cost?

ISBN is the International Standard Book Number, a 10-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published anywhere in the world. Pick up any book on your bookshelf and you'll find that it has an ISBN. My book Wicked Cool Shell Scripts has an assigned ISBN of 1-59327-012-7.

Turns out you can decipher this ISBN number too: the four parts of an ISBN are the group or country identified ('1' in the ISBN above), publisher identifier ('59327'), title identifier ('012') and the check digit ('7'). Sure enough, check another title from the same publisher, NoStarch Press, Write Portable Code, its ISBN is ISBN 1-59327-056-9.

ISBN numbers are assigned by a group of agencies worldwide coordinated by the International ISBN Agency in Berlin, Germany. In the United States, ISBNs are assigned by the U.S. ISBN Agency: R.R. Bowker is the independent agent in the US for this system. It's easy to remember their website:

You can apply for an ISBN...

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