Do I need this? A Guide to Copyright and ISBN's

August 01, 2018

You have proudly finished your masterpiece. The files are ready, the cover is designed, and you are ready to get your books printed. This is when some questions start popping up: What about copyright? How do I get a barcode on the back of my book? Do I need an ISBN number? How long does copyright registration take? Should I have done that a while ago?

These are questions we are commonly asked before orders are placed. If you are planning on selling your books in stores or online, you will need an ISBN and barcode. Luckily, we have made this process easy for you. You can request an ISBN and barcode on your online order form with us. Once the order is submitted, we will send you the application to fill out, then we will submit it on our end. Once we receive the ISBN, we generate the barcode for you and place it on your back cover! If you left a space on your copyright page for the ISBN, we will fill it in for you as well.




An ISBN is not the same as a barcode. The ISBN is the number itself, and the barcode is created from the ISBN. You buy an ISBN first, and then generate a barcode from that ISBN. At 48 Hr Books, we're a 1-stop-shop. Here you can buy ISBN numbers and barcodes individually and in packages, simplifying the process, and saving you a little money, too.

What exactly is an ISBN? An ISBN is a unique number that identifies a book. Many books have the same or similar titles, so bookstores and book distributors use an ISBN to be sure they're ordering the correct book. If your book doesn't have an ISBN, bookstores (including online bookstores) won't carry it.

If you are planning on printing your book in multiple formats (paperback, hardcover, eBook), then you will need a separate ISBN for each, even if it's the same book title. This is because an ISBN identifies the following: 

- Title/Subtitle

- Author

- Page count

- Format (hardcover, paperback, eBook, audio book)

- Trim size

- Publisher

- Edition

If any of these details vary, then a new ISBN should be obtained.


Ok, you have the ISBN and barcode taken care of, so you can formally sell your books. What about copyright registration?

What is copyright?

“Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works” (  It is a form of intellectual property law and protects your authorship.

Do I need to register?

Technically your work is protected from the moment of its creation, so registering is voluntary. However, if you ever feel your work has been copied and a lawsuit were to materialize, a registered copyright would legally protect you and your work. Registering for copyright is recommended if you plan on selling your books.

How do I register?

Go to

Click on “Register a Copyright”

This takes you to the Registration Portal

For more info, you can click on “Registration Processing Time and FAQ’s”

Or directly click on “Log in to the Electronic Copyright Office Registration System”

You will need to create an account then fill out the registration form. You must also send a copy of your work, which can be electronic.

How long does it take?

The time it takes to receive your copyright may vary, but currently web processing takes about 7 months and mail-in applications take about 9 months.

Don’t let the time it takes to receive your copyright information discourage you from selling your books. You can still print your books even if your copyright registration has not been completed yet!







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