Books are identified with an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and its corresponding ISBN barcode. This standardization allows publishers to interact with other retailers, wholesalers, libraries, and online marketplaces. Print books need barcodes, especially if you want to sell your book in bookstores or other retailers. This blog post will delve into the world of barcodes for books, explaining what they are, how they differ from regular barcodes, the two main types available, and their significance in the publishing industry.
What are Barcodes for Books?
Barcodes for books are unique numerical codes represented by a series of parallel lines that contain essential information about a book, such as its ISBN (International Standard Book Number), pricing, and other relevant data. These barcodes simplify inventory management, enhance sales processes, and enable accurate tracking of books throughout the supply chain.
Print books need barcodes, especially if you want to see your book in bookstores or other retailers. Without the barcode, it’ll be next to impossible for brick-and-mortar retailers to sell your book.
A barcode is not an ISBN. It’s a graphical representation of your book’s ISBN and price.
How are Barcodes for Books Different Than Regular Barcodes?
Barcodes for books differ from regular barcodes in terms of their format and the information they convey. While regular barcodes typically encode generic product details, barcodes for books incorporate specific book-related information, such as the ISBN, which is crucial for accurate identification and tracking of individual titles.
In the U.S., products are labeled with a UPC number, or universal product code, which is a 12-digit number to indicate what the product is. However, for books, there is an exception. Books utilize an EAN number, instead of a UPC number.
EAN stands for European Article Number. In the rest of the world (except for U.S.), this is the standard used for selling products and goods. The EAN is a 13-digit number, just like an ISBN number. How convenient. 🙂
The first 3 digits of the EAN code designate the country where the product was made. Since there are so many books produced year in and year out, books actually have their own “country code”! Yes, it’s true. It has been designated as a country and has been assigned its own EAN prefix. That prefix is 978 and it signifies “Bookland.”
An EAN which begins with the Bookland prefix 978 is called a Bookland EAN code and is used on books and book related products internationally. The Bookland symbol is the barcode of choice in the book industry because it allows for encodation of ISBNs. Although the standard Bookland EAN code is 978, occasionally, 979 been used as well.
Two Main Types of Barcodes for Books
Book barcodes come in two forms. Barcodes with prices and barcodes without prices. Book prices are listed using a 5-digit code. The first digit is the currency in which the book is being sold. For example, a book sold in the U.S. for $15.99 would read as “51599” as the five-digit code. Here are some examples of country codes:
-5 would be used for U.S. dollars
-6 for Canadian dollars
-3 for Australia
Many large book retailers in the U.S. require barcodes for books with prices, so they can be machine read, and facilitate automated sales and ease with inventory tracking.
What’s Included in an ISBN Barcode?
An ISBN barcode typically consists of the ISBN itself, country or language code, and a check digit for error detection. Together, these components form a unique identifier for the book, enabling efficient tracking and management.
- ISBN Barcode: The ISBN barcode is the most common type used in the book industry. It contains the ISBN, which serves as a unique identifier for each book. The ISBN barcode is essential for seamless book distribution, inventory management, and point-of-sale operations.
- EAN-13 Barcode: The EAN-13 barcode is an extended version of the ISBN barcode. It includes the ISBN as well as additional information, such as the retail price. While not as widely used as the ISBN barcode, the EAN-13 barcode provides enhanced functionality, especially for international distribution and sales.
How Much Do Barcodes for Books Cost?
Using Amazon KDP’s Free Barcode
Amazon KDP offers authors the option to generate a free ISBN barcode during the book publishing process. This barcode is specific to Amazon and can only be used for books sold through their platform. However, it provides a convenient and cost-effective solution for authors looking to distribute their books primarily on Amazon.
Should I Use a Free or Paid Barcode?
The decision to use a free or paid barcode depends on your publishing goals and distribution strategy. If you plan to sell exclusively on Amazon, the free barcode provided by Amazon KDP can suffice. However, if you intend to distribute your book through multiple channels, investing in a paid barcode will ensure universal compatibility and flexibility.
Uploading Your Cover File to Amazon KDP
When you create a cover for Amazon KDP, you can choose from the following 3 options, which determine the type of barcode that will print on your cover:
How Do I Create My Own Book Barcode?
Ensure that the barcode adheres to the required size and resolution for optimal scanning accuracy.
Once those are both submitted, a barcode will be automatically generated. Pretty simple, if that is the route you decide to go.
Where are Barcodes Placed on the Cover?
Barcodes for books play a vital role in streamlining sales and inventory management in the publishing industry. Whether you opt for a free barcode through Amazon KDP or choose to purchase your own, barcodes provide accurate book identification, simplify point-of-sale operations, and facilitate efficient inventory tracking. Embrace the power of barcodes and unlock the benefits they offer in improving your book sales and overall business efficiency.
Interested in Learning More About Self-Publishing on Amazon KDP?
📖Looking for Additional Reading?
- IngramSpark Vs KDP: What Are The Key Differences?
- 21+ Amazon KDP Low-Content Book Ideas
- BISAC Codes And Amazon KDP
- 11 Reasons Why RDNs Need To Self-Publish On Amazon KDP
- All About Low Content Books [Amazon KDP]
- How To Create Amazon A+ Content For Books
- Understanding KDP Book Printing Costs
- KDP Book Sizes: How To Select The Right One
- ISBNs For eBooks: Do You Need One?
- How To Gift An eBook On Amazon
- What Is Amazon KDP Expanded Distribution?
- How To Get Your Book Noticed On Amazon
- Understanding Amazon KDP Select – Pros And Cons