What Is an ISBN?

ISBNs and Barcodes are crucial when selling books and other publications. And they play a more important role than you think.


You don't have to print an ISBN number or barcode each time you print with us. But you must add them to your projects if you intend to sell your publications to online retailers or bookstores.

It's easy to think printers and publishers are the same - but there is a difference. Traditionally, publishing handles the vending and marketing of publications to readers, while Mixam is currently an online print service and only produces prints. That means it's your responsibility to proof your files, plus you'll also retain full copyright and creative control.



An ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It's a numeric identifier but don't confuse ISBN for ISSN. ISSN stands for International Standard Serial Number and is the ISBN equivalent for serialised publications like Magazines.

How To Get an ISBN

Mixam does not currently sell ISBNs. But you can buy ISBNs from the official source for Australia herePurchasing an ISBN means you'll be your own publisher and the owner of a unique number which can never be re-published. If you choose to produce your publication in multiple formats (e.g. Hardcover and Paperback), they will each need their own ISBN. The same rule applies if your publication is an updated version of a previous edition.

When you've purchased your ISBN(s), you can log in to the ISBN website and register the title and format. ISBNs will also help you track your sales, and you may find it helpful to log your ISBNs in a spreadsheet for reference.

ISBN and barcode on a printed booklet

A Word on Imprints

In book printing, an imprint is a trade name under which you release a title. They appear on the copyright pages inside a publication's front cover, listing details like the title, subtitle, author(s) and publisher. When setting up your book with Bowker, you should allocate your ISBN to your imprint name if you have one.

All registered imprints belong to you or your organization and are a great way to establish yourself and your brand, especially if you plan to produce more than one edition. It’s not mandatory to include an imprint, but if you have more than one imprint name, you may want to open separate accounts for each so you can track data more efficiently.



A barcode is a visual representation of your ISBN, like this example. Publications sold through traditional channels require barcodes, which you can create online for free. 

How To Get a Barcode

Many choose to print barcodes on the back of their publication. We advise positioning your ISBN and Barcode on the back cover design in the bottom right corner with a 300dpi resolution. This setting is the standard image quality for high-resolution prints and means a printer will produce 300 tiny dots for every square inch of your image, so your barcode is scannable.

ISBN and barcode on a comic book