A reprint means more copies are being printed with no substantial changes. Perhaps a few typos are being fixed. A new edition means that there has been a substantial change: content has been altered in a way that might make a customer complain that this was not the product that was expected. Or, text has been changed to add a new feature, such as a preface or appendix or additional content. Or, content has been revised.

If a second edition has the same title as the first, does it keep the same ISBN?

No. a new edition is considered a different product and gets its own ISBN.

How are ISBNs assigned to multi-volume works?

ISBNs are assigned to the volumes as they are sold as products. If they are only available as a set, the set gets one ISBN. If each volume is available separately and as a set, each volume gets an ISBN and the set gets an ISBN.

How are ISBNs assigned to books in a series?

An ISBN is assigned to each book in the series. A series of books is also eligible for an ISSN (International Standard Series Number), available from the Library of Congress.

If an ISBN is assigned in another country, does a US ISBN have to be gotten to sell the book in the US?

No. All ISBNs are international. There is no such thing as a US ISBN. ISBNs are international, but assigned locally.

I got my ISBN from my printer and now I want to make sure it’s in my name, how do I transfer the ISBN?

ISBNs cannot be transferred on an individual basis. If a self-publisher wants to be identified as the publisher, the self-publisher must get their own ISBN. A printing company or publisher services company cannot sell, give away or transfer one of their ISBNs to a customer.

If a spouse or family member passes away, can a relative or surviving spouse use the remaining ISBNs?

The ISBNs are considered property of the publishing company and all of the ISBNs can be transferred to the new owners, including a family member. The entire block of ISBNs is transferred to the new company owner(s). The block of ISBNs cannot be divided up among family members.

If an author gets the publishing rights back, does the original publisher’s ISBN remain?

No. The author cannot use the original publisher’s ISBN. The ISBN identifies the one who holds the publishing rights—that is, the publisher who should be contacted when ordering the book. If the author is going to be publishing the book, the author must get their own ISBN.

Do I use the same ISBN on the print book and on the e-book since the content is the same?

No. The print product and the e-book are two different products and should be tracked separately since the ISBN acts like an ordering number or a serial number.

I’ve heard that the International ISBN Agency, BIC and BISG recommend that every separate eBook format, and every library platform should have its own unique ISBN. Can’t a publisher use one ISBN to cover all eBook formats?

No. The ISBN standard (ISO 2108) doesn’t permit one ISBN to cover multiple formats. “Different product forms (e.g. hardcover, paperback, Braille, audio-book, video, online electronic publication) shall be assigned separate ISBNs. Each different format of an electronic publication (e.g. “.lit”,“.pdf”, “.html”, “.pdb”) that is published and made separately available shall be given a separate ISBN.”