If you're planning on self-publishing your children's book, you might be wondering...do I need to purchase a barcode?
The short answer? No. But stick around for all the details!
What is a barcode?
Barcodes are a pattern of parallel lines that are unique to a single product, or for our purposes, a single book. They contain important information about your book, like the title, price, ISBN, and more.
Basically, it's a way of storing data visually that scanners can access quickly.
What is an ISBN?
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, which is a number that is unique to your book and your book alone. You get these from the country you live in but the numbers are used worldwide. Each country has only one certified distributor - when you self-publish, it is important that you only get your ISBN through them.
To name a few: In the United States, you get your ISBNs from Bowker. In Canada, you get them from the government. Nielsen is the distributor for the UK & Ireland. It is not to your advantage to take a free ISBN from anyone, including KDP.
Every format of a book needs a different ISBN number because their exterior is not the same. So a paperback and a hardcover book will have different ISBNs. If your country charges for them, then yes, you'll need to buy ISBNs, but the real question is...
Do I need to purchase barcodes for my books?
A barcode is just a fancy picture of your data, so you don't actually need to purchase one from a site like Bowker, though it's fine if you do. If you're using KDP or IngramSpark, they'll actually generate a barcode for you right onto your existing cover, free of charge!
But if you'd like to generate one yourself, there are a few that I highly recommend.
4 Free Barcode Generators for Authors
When it comes to picking your barcode generator, you don't need to think too hard about it. Unlike other platforms, there aren't pros and cons - you just need to pick one you like.