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Publishing Research - Research Guide

ISBN and Legal Deposit


An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique code for the identification of books and other published material.

Why do I need an ISBN?

The ISBN allows for easy identification for the purposes of selling or cataloguing a book or similar publication.

  • An ISBN improves the likelihood your publication will be found and purchased 
  • An ISBN links to essential information about your publication
  • An ISBN enables more efficient marketing and distribution of your title
  • Most retailers require ISBNs
  • An ISBN helps you collect and analyse publication sales data

How do I get an ISBN?

Commercial publishers will organise an ISBN for you. However, if you are self-publishing a title and wish it to be available commercially or publicly, you can apply for an ISBN from the Australian ISBN Agency:

Level One, 607 St Kilda Road
(PO Box 6509, St Kilda Road Central VIC 8008)
Melbourne Vic, 3004
Tel: +61 3 8517 8349

Legal Deposit

Legal deposit is a statutory provision requiring publishers to deposit copies of their publications in a nominated collecting institute.  The legal deposit system ensures that the works of authors and publishers will be preserved for present and future generations.

The comprehensive collections formed through legal deposit provide a valuable resource for research into all aspects of Australian life: its history and culture including artistic, commercial, technical and scientific endeavour.

In the context of legal deposit, works can including: books, periodicals such as newsletters or annual reports, newspapers, sheet music, maps, plans, charts, programs, catalogues, brochures or pamphlets, amongst others. A work is considered to have been published if reproductions of the work or edition have been made available (whether by sale or otherwise) to the public.

What you need to do:

Once your work is published, one copy must be deposited to the National Library of Australia (NLA) and one copy to the State Library of Western Australia (SLWA), both within 30 days of publication. Further details can be found on the SLWA website and NLA website