How to Obstain Genuine ISBN for your Book in Nigeria

So, You Want an ISBN for Your Book?

Sometime ago, a client we published a novel for referred someone that wants to publish his book to us. Typical of our style, I engaged him in a discussion, asking questions to discern how far he has come with his book and what he really wants from us.

In the course of that chat, I discovered that what he wanted from us was just an ISBN. “I don’t want you to publish my book. How much do you sell an ISBN?” He asked.

I told him directly that Fratee Media is a media company with a publishing arm, not an ISBN vendor. Strictly speaking, there is nothing like an ISBN vendor. Those who sell ISBN are breaking the law and if our systems work well, trading ISBN is enough to land you in jail or attract a huge fine.

That interaction prompted me to share with you, an aspiring author, a few points you should note about ISBN and how to obtain genuine ones.

An ISBN is a unique number used to identify a work of art, in this case, a book. You can google ISBN for more info. No two books have the same ISBN; so, it’s used to identify books in shelves and bookstores.

To an extent, it confers some seriousness on a book. It doesn’t mean the same thing as copyright. There is a huge difference between ISBN and copyright. In fact, in Nigeria, they are handled by different agencies. If you can, please get an ISBN for your book, even if it’s an eBook.

All my 6 published ebooks have an ISBN partly because I believe eBook is as serious as a hard copy book and also because all my eBooks will get printed one day.

If you have written a book, you should dare to part with N3,500 or less to get an ISBN for your book, even if it’s an eBook. It may be useful to your lawyer in establishing your authorship of a book, in the event of copyright infringement. However, you need to exercise caution so that you don’t put fake ISBN on your book because there are many fake ISBN plastered on books in Nigeria.

Here is why…

Usually, people get such ISBN when they go to third parties to obtain it instead of going to the right places. Some people go to those that have a press to publish their book and ask them to put ISBN for their book. Having a press doesn’t make one a publisher. It simply means they can print a book. Being a graphic designer doesn’t make one a publisher, it simply means they can design book covers


Some of those that have press still operate without formal registration of their business. When you approach them to publish your book and ask for ISBN, they give it to someone to design and buy from anybody that claims to sell ISBN.

In fact, here is an experience I had.

One of the clients we published his book gave it to another person to print for him. I sent the raw design in a Corel draw to him and he changed the credits to:

Published by:


Cover & Layout Design by:

Then slammed ‘our’ ISBN on the book. The problem with the book is that although it has genuine ISBN, at closer scrutiny, it will appear as though I sold the ISBN to him.

You know why?

Every publisher has a unique code and no two publishers share the same code. When you look at the 13-digit ISBN, the five-digit number is what rep the publisher’s code.

This is an example of our ISBN: 978-978-55726-9-8. The code: 55726 is Fratee Media publisher’s code.

So, he slammed Fratee Media publisher’s code and HisPressName as the publisher. In certain circumstances, this will constitute a problem for the author and if I have strength for trouble, the pressman will hear nwii.

That’s what happened with many aspiring publishers and you can avoid that by getting your ISBN from the right place. For now, it’s not an issue; but if your book starts going places, you will SUFFER the consequence of FAKE ISBN. The right places to obtain your ISBN is the National Library or through your publisher. National Library is in every state, I guess usually state capital.

If you have a registered company, you can obtain ISBN directly. Fratee Media has ‘publishing’ as one of her business interest when it was registered in CAC, but I am not sure you need to have that to qualify to obtain an ISBN.

After writing your book, take it to a publisher whose job is to edit your book, package it and obtain ISBN for your book. If you have your own company, simply walk into any National Library where you live with your CAC certificate, a means of identification and a letter on your company letterhead detailing the titles of your intended books and their author names.

Within days, you will have your ISBN and can put it on your book when you choose to print or release as an eBook.

Hope you got my point? Have any question? Shot it below or send it directly to 08070701380 on WhatsApp.

Joseph Dinwoke

Joseph Dinwoke is the Media Strategist at Fratee Media where aside from crafting winning strategies for helping businesses and organizations to promote their brand through digital marketing, he has designed over 25 websites since 2014 for businesses, bloggers and ministries and helped authors publish 8 books. He helps organizations understand how to use media to increase sales so that they don’t waste money in Guess-Work Marketing Communication that leads to waste of scarce resources.

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