What is an ISBN?

Publishing your book is quite the process, and there are many important steps and decisions to make as you go along. Obtaining an ISBN for your book is one of the most important steps, especially if your publication will be distributed commercially. What is an ISBN, and how do you obtain one?

The ISBN, which stands for “The International Standard Book Number”, is a unique, numeric identifier for your publication. There is an ISBN for each separate edition and variation of a publication as well, identifying the registrant title, edition, and format. Think of it like the identity of your book, it puts your book into the system and can be used to keep track and manage orders, listings, sales records, and stock.

To purchase an ISBN, one must go through an affiliate of the international ISBN agency. In Canada, this would be from the ISBN Canada Online System. They are free, but you must be a self publisher residing in Canada with a head office in the country as well. They do not provide copyright protection, you must file an application with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office to prevent copies of your work. You can follow this link here to obtain and ISBN of your own. 

In the US, an ISBN is obtained from myidentifiers.com. Run by a company called Bowker, they are the only company that can issue an ISBN in the US. ISBN’s may be purchased on their own or in large quantities. Copyright protection in the US is filed through the eCo Online system, where you create an account and fill out a form. There is also a mail in option, though online tends to be faster.

Luckily, the process for obtaining an ISBN is overall a very simple one. Businesses and self-publishers from Toronto to the United States all have their respective options, both with a very similar process. And remember, you own copyright to your work as soon as it is created, but obtaining copyright protection will help extend this right. Always know your rights as an author and publisher, and make sure you know all processes involved in your respective countries to avoid and legal or printing issues in the future!

Book Creation: Hardcover Vs Softcover

When it comes to book printing and the binding process, there are many choices all with their own select advantages and price points. What if you have a book that requires nothing but the highest quality binding, such as a textbook, or an important piece of intellectual property? The absolute cornerstone of library quality books is a technique called “smyth sewn” binding, also known as section sewn. Smyth sewn book binding provides a numbers of benefits, and also looks very elegant and high quality. But what is smyth sewn binding, and what makes it stand out amongst all the other options?

     So, what exactly is smyth sewn binding? The process starts by gathering pages into individual groups rather than just laying every page down together. These groups are called “signatures”, and each group of signatures are dealt with individually, stitched together with a thread after the pages are folded together. Once each signature is made, they are then sewn fully together, turning them into a complete book. The book is then perfectly bound in a way that prevents each page from falling out individually, and is then finished with a variety of different cover options. This technique is most definitely a professional service, and is the best custom book option available.
You will often see textbooks, legal documents, and intellectual property with a smyth sewn binding style. This is because with smyth sewn, due to the pages being grouped and sewn together, you cannot rip out an individual page without damaging or removing an entire section of pages. This proves useful for keeping all important legal documents intact, as well as textbook pages, and intellectual property. It is also the highest quality binding option, due to the sewn in pages which prevents them from falling out over time, and the protective cover that acts as a finishing touch of defense. With this style it is also easy to lay the book open flat to read, again emphasizing its use for textbooks or a piece of literature you would be using for long periods of time.

     Another important aspect of smyth sewn binding is its ability to use a multitude of cover options. Since everything is being sewn together, you can technically use anything from a traditional hardcover, to plastics, wood, cardboard, etc. This allows for more creativity and can allow for a nice unique touch to your book. As noted before the pages are also able to lay completely flat, which is great if you want to add an entire image spanning across two pages within the publication.

     Overall, it is plain to see the value in a smyth sewn bound book. When looking into custom book printing, whether you are a publishing company or trying to self-publish your book, there are many options to choose from. Always try to imagine what your book will be used for, and by whom. Smyth sewn will provide the utmost quality, and can add years of life to your book, as well as protect the contents within. Using Sure Print and Design’s online price calculator will give you a good idea of the cost that will go into smyth sewing your own book, as each project is different from the last.

Why Hardcover Smyth Sewn is a premium finish among all book bindings

When deciding how to bind a book or novel that you put your time into, the thought of having to pick out a hard or softcover can be extremely daunting. Especially when you have put so much hard work into creating your book. What will it cost? Will this type of cover look and feel good to my readers? These are some of the thoughts that may be swimming through your mind as you go through the process. Have you ever thought as to why some are printed on hardcover, and some on softcover? The answer is not simply aesthetics!


      Picture this: you have been waiting for one of the most anticipated books of the year. When you finally pick it up at your local bookstore the crisp hardcover stands out with beautiful artwork and title inlays. When a very popular book first hits the market, you can bet it will be on a hardcover. It is usually not released in a softcover version until a few months afterwards. Books of high value or popularity are often bound in hardcover, as it not only protects the novel by preventing the pages from bending outwards, but allows for extra touches like inlays in the title, special gloss, raised letters, and can make the cover art more intense.
It is the more expensive option, so it is important to consider your audience. If your readers are avid collectors with pristine bookshelves, you can bet they’ll want a hardcover to line up beautifully on the shelf, perhaps matching with the editions they have already. Do note that hardcovers can be more cumbersome in travel, as they do not always fit as nicely in luggage or have flexibility like a softcover. As well, being a hardcover, it may not provide as much comfort to your hands while reading, though it can at times be easier to lay open flat. Overall, the quality and longevity of a hardcover, the fact it matches with the other books in the edition, and the ability to make the cover more striking, are the main selling points of this option.


      Light and portable, the softcover is the most produced cover option between the two. It is also the most economical, so if you’re on a budget, printing softcover can save you quite a bit of cash, especially if you are printing large quantities of your book. Self-publishers getting their first book printed and published often use softcover for its cost effectiveness. One of the most notable qualities of a softcover is its appeal to travellers. When travelling, the flexibility of a softcover will allow for easy reading while sitting on an airplane, or on the go, due to its bendy, floppy cover. It will also feel more comfortable in your hands while reading in general; whether it be at home, on the bus, etc. They are very difficult to lay flat, however.

      Corporate printing projects often utilize softcover due its low cost, and the ability to print multiple copies to make it more widespread. Imagine if everyone in the office had to have a hardcover of a simple manual, the cost would be immense for the company, and they would be overall more cumbersome. Though it may not as be as fancy and striking as the hardcover option, the comfort while reading coupled with its cost effective printing options can make for a great cover option for your book. It also can be made to last, provided the owner cares for the book over the years.
So now that you know the difference between and hard and softcover, which one will you choose? Don’t get too nervous! The contents of your book will ultimately be the closing tool for your readers, after all.