International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

National Library Role  as International Standard Book Number Agency

The National Library Section is mandated to assign the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to Kenyan Publishers. The National Library is a national agency for the International Standard Book Numbering system.

Recognized in more than 160 countries throughout the world, the International Standard Book Number is short and clear identifier that is potentially machine-readable. The ISBN denotes a particular monographic publication uniquely and should, therefore, be associated with it from early production stages. An essential instrument in production, distribution, sales analysis, and bibliographic data storage systems in the book trade, ISBN is also of vital importance to library information management.

ISBN is assigned to monographic publications and certain types of related products that  are available to the public, whether those publications and related products are available on a gratis basis or to purchase. In addition, individual sections (such as chapters) of monographic publications or issues or articles of continuing resources that are made available separately may also use the ISBN as an identifier. With regard to the various media available, it is of no importance in what physical form the content is documented and distributed; however, each product form should be identified separately.

Some examples of types of monographic publications to which an ISBN shall be assigned are:

  •  Printed books and pamphlets
  •  Braille publications
  •  Publications that are not intended by the publisher to be updated regularly or continued indefinitely
  • Individual articles2 or issues of a particular continuing resource (but not the continuing resource in its entirely)
  • Maps
  • Educational/instructional films, videos and transparencies
  • Audio books on cassette, or CD, or DVD (talking books)
  • Electronic publications either on physical carries (such as machine –readable tapes, diskettes, or CD-ROMs) or on the Internet
  • Digitized copies of print monographic publications
  • Microform publications
  • Educational or instructional software
  • Mixed media publications (where the principal constituent is text-based)

ISBN Charges

We wish to bring to your attention that new rates are applicable as per the Legal notice 16 dated 20th November 2014, published in the Kenya Gazette. The new rates also incorporate the ISBN Barcode which was initially sold separately.

Charges Applicable (Kshs)


Levels (Range of ISBN Numbers)

Current rates (Kshs.)










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