ISBNs – do you need one?


An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, etc.  for ordering, listing, and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the publisher as well as the specific title, edition and format.

There is no legal requirement to have an ISBN. However, it can make your publication more visible because it will be added to a national register and is more likely to be picked up by library catalogues and other listings. It also looks professional. Any book made generally available can have an ISBN whether it is priced or free.


If you are publishing with a commercial publisher they will arrange an ISBN. If you would like a Swansea University ISBN complete the application form on our web pages. The library will cover the cost and register the ISBN for you. Contact ext 4567 if you need any help.

If you are producing a journal or other serial you can obtain an ISSN (international standard serial number) direct from the British Library free of charge.

Publishing material within your department?  Note that the British Library and other copyright libraries have a legal right to receive a copy of everything published in the UK.  A copy should be sent to the British Library within a month of publication and the other libraries will request a copy if they want one. This applies whether you have an ISBN or not.









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