Publishing a book is a long process that involves many steps: from editing and proofreading the final manuscript right down to developing a marketing strategy and selling your book. At the tail-end of this process, there is one small but crucial step that all authors seeking to sell their books online and in bookstores must do: acquiring an ISBN.

What is an ISBN?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is an international numbering system used to identify books. Its numerical code makes it easy to locate a particular book, whether in the library or bookstore.
All published books must have an ISBN.

How to get an ISBN

get-an-isbnIn Canada, getting an ISBN is simple, quick and—most importantly—free. The first thing you need to do is visit the ISBN Canada website. Upon clicking the link to create an ISBN Canada account, you’ll be guided through the steps to create your ISBN Canada account.

With this account you will be able to make requests for ISBNs. Note that it can take up to 10 business days for you to receive your account username and password, so don’t wait until the day before your books go to print to request an ISBN.

If you’ve decided to self-publish, you can fill out the necessary forms yourself to get an ISBN for your book. CanamBooks recommends that you submit ISBN requests for both paper and digital formats of your books. Even if you don’t intend to publish your book as an ebook, this will come in handy if you ever change your mind down the road.

How to contact ISBN Canada

ISBN Canada, the department of Library and Archives Canada responsible for dispensing and cataloguing ISBNs in Canada, has made it very easy to fill out an ISBN request online. However, they can also be reached by phone or mail at the following address:

Canadian ISBN Agency
Library and Archives Canada
550 De la Cité Boulevard
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0N4

  • Telephone: 819-994- 6872
  • Fax: 819-934- 7535
  • Email:

You can also contact Library and Archives Canada toll-free at: 1-866- 578-7777 (select 1+7+3).

Library and Archives Canada is also the organism responsible for managing legal deposits, which is another step you might want to consider once your book is published.

When making an ISBN request, make sure you have the following information:

  • Book title
  • Book format
  • Printing date
  • Likely publishing date (this doesn’t have to be exact, but just to give a sense of when you expect your book to be published)
  • Author’s contact information

If you’ve finished writing your manuscript and you’re looking for professional assistance in publishing your book, contact our experts at CanamBooks! We’ll be glad to guide you through your publishing process and help you get an ISBN for your book.

Want to learn more about self-publishing?

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