ISBN Application at the National Library

This is the second of a 3-part blog post documenting the steps in setting up our business and in having my book published. I have been asked many times by friends how I went about – or am going about as I’m not finished yet – with the process, so I’m writing it for easy reference, for anyone who would like to set up their business or publish their book but don’t know how to start.


Have you ever been to our National Library?

Last week, I went there to apply for ISBN for my book, The Freelancer’s Bible for Pinoys.

Honestly, I expected a dusty, old, archaic building with tons and tons of crusty old books – like that library Samwell stole books from in Game of Thrones.

I even prepared my nebulizer in case I went home with asthma.

But you know what? I didn’t need that nebulizer after all. To my surprise, our National Library is very modern and well kept. It had glass walls and was very minimalist – no old and dusty books.

The officer was very friendly; I sat down and waited on a very comfortable sofa while she assisted a fellow who I think is also applying for ISBN.

Then came my turn. I handed over the forms and documents needed, she asked a bit about the book, gave a slip to pay at the cashier, and once that’s paid, I got my ISBN in a matter of 20 minutes – as a quick as my DTI registration.


What is ISBN?

ISBNISBN is an acronym which means International Standard Book Number. It used to have only 10 digits, but by January of 2007, it now consists of 13 digits.

It’s usually found at the back of paperback books written on top of the bar code. It’s also found at the copyright page of any book.

It's essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records, and stock control purposes.

It identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition, and format of the book.

If you’re publishing an e-book online, like say, on Amazon, you wouldn’t need ISBN. But if you’ll be selling a paperback version of the book, the ISBN should be found on the copyright page of the book.

The good thing is, Amazon automatically provides an ISBN for paperback books published and sold by them – no need to go to the National Library to apply for one.

But this only applies to books sold by Amazon. If you were to publish the book yourself and consign it to National Bookstore for example, you’ll need a separate ISBN for that book.


Getting There

I took the bus going to Buendia one early Friday morning. I took public transportation so I could better document the steps and best routes in going there.

However there was one big issue – it was early in the morning, I needed to ride a jeepney from Buendia to Faura, and I didn't have change for a thousand peso bill.

In the Philippines, it’s quite rude to pay a thousand bucks in riding a jeepney with a 9php fare. People were expected to have change.

So instead of ruining my beautiful morning, I walked all the way to Vito Cruz from Buendia, looking for a convenience store to buy something and have my money changed.

After a hearty breakfast, and a pocket full of change, I rode that jeepney to Faura. Once there, I made sure my good old friend Waze was open to guide me while walking.

I can’t tell you specifically the routes I took, but I can tell you that, while walking, I came across the Supreme Court of the Philippines, University of the Philippines – Manila, and a Robinsons Mall. It was quite an exercise. Good thing I went there early, the sun was still friendly.


Steps and Documents Needed

Finally, I got there.

As I went inside, I was asked to fill out two forms, the ISBN Fact Sheet and ISBN Information Sheet.

These forms are also available in the National Library’s website if you want to be super prepared and submit a clean printed form instead of a handwritten one.

Together with the forms, I also submitted the following documents:

  1. Photocopy of my DTI Registration
  2. Photocopy of my book’s title page – it’s the part of the book with the big title, author/s, editors, etc.
  3. My book’s copyright page – it’s the part of the book that says Philippine Copyright, the address of the publisher, All rights reserved. Here’s a sample Copyright page for you.

Once these were recorded by the officer who took my forms, she handed a receipt and asked me to pay php120 to the cashier.

After that’s done, I went to her for my ISBN and after a few more minutes, I got my ISBN for my very first book!

Easy as pie!


Asking the Mayor for Permit, Not a Good Idea

There was one thing I did that I feel like I needed to write.

In the National Library’s website, one of the requirements enumerated to apply for ISBN was a mayor’s permit.

I was in the process organizing our company documents and I was in the Mayor’s office at that time, so I figured, why not ask for a mayor’s permit to apply ISBN – so I did.

I went to the Mayor's office and was greeted by a secretary. I told her my request – a mayor’s permit to apply for ISBN. Seems like she didn’t have an idea of what I was asking for so I was referred to two more people, until I got to – I think – the mayor’s secretary.

She too, didn’t know what I was talking about. She said they issued permits for work-related purposes, but she didn’t have an idea about a mayor’s permit for ISBN. So I came to the conclusion that either requirement is outdated or it just doesn’t make any sense.

Anyhow, it didn’t stop me from finding another way to get that elusive ISBN.

Next Up, Book Launch!

All set! Now off to the printer.

Hope this article helped and gave you an idea on why you need an ISBN, applying for it, documents you need, and getting there.

9 thoughts on “ISBN Application at the National Library”

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