ISBNs and Oracle/Tarot Cards

For creators embarking on the journey of self-publishing their card decks, the question of whether to obtain an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) often looms large. 

ISBNs are commonly associated with books, but when it comes to card decks, the answer isn't always straightforward. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of ISBNs for card decks and guide you through the process of obtaining one if it aligns with your publishing goals.

Do You Need an ISBN for Your Card Deck?

The need for an ISBN for your card deck hinges on several factors, including the format of your product and your distribution strategy. Here's what you should consider:

  1. Format Matters: If your card deck is a standalone creation without a companion book or guidebook, you might not require an ISBN. Card decks are often regarded as non-book items, and ISBNs are primarily associated with books and related publications.
  2. Distribution Channels: If your plan involves selling your card deck through mainstream bookstores, libraries, or online retailers that demand ISBNs for cataloging, you may need one. Nevertheless, many card deck creators opt to sell directly through their websites, at events, or via specialized metaphysical and spiritual shops without ISBNs.
  3. Guidebooks and ISBNs: In cases where your card deck includes a guidebook or companion book, the ISBN is generally assigned to the book portion, not the cards themselves. If you choose this route, you'd need an ISBN for the book but not necessarily for the cards.
  4. International Reach: If you intend to distribute your card deck globally and wish to ensure accurate tracking and cataloging, obtaining an ISBN for your product can be a valuable step.

How to Obtain an ISBN for Your Card Deck

If you decide that securing an ISBN is essential for your card deck, here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Contact Your National ISBN Agency: Every country has its own ISBN agency responsible for issuing ISBNs. Locate the agency in your country (e.g., Bowker in the United States, ISBN Agency in the UK) and visit their website or reach out to them to initiate your ISBN application.
  2. Provide Detailed Information: You'll be required to furnish specific details about your card deck, including its title, format, author or creator information, and publication specifics. If your card deck incorporates a guidebook, you should also apply for an ISBN for the book portion.
  3. Fee Payment: ISBNs are typically not free. Be prepared to pay a fee when applying for your ISBN(s). The cost may vary based on your country and the quantity of ISBNs you require.
  4. Receipt of ISBNs: Once your application is approved, and you've paid the necessary fee, you'll be issued your ISBN(s). Each ISBN is unique and corresponds to a specific edition and format of your product.
  5. Assignment of ISBN: If your card deck includes a guidebook, make certain to assign the ISBN to the book component. If you have multiple editions or formats (e.g., different languages or printings), you may need to secure multiple ISBNs.
  6. Incorporate the ISBN: If you've acquired ISBNs, it's imperative to include them in the appropriate locations on your card deck packaging or guidebook. This ensures precise tracking and cataloging of your product.

The need for an ISBN for your card deck depends on your distribution strategy and whether your product encompasses a guidebook or book component. If you conclude that obtaining an ISBN is vital, contact your national ISBN agency, supply the requisite information, pay the fee, and make certain the ISBN is correctly assigned and displayed on your product packaging. This practice will help you uphold accurate records and enhance the discoverability of your card deck within the marketplace.

List of ISBN Agencies

Canada (Library and Archives Canada):

Website: Library and Archives Canada ISBN

New Zealand (National Library of New Zealand):

Website: National Library of New Zealand ISBN

United Kingdom (Nielsen ISBN Agency):

Website: Nielsen ISBN Agency

United States (Bowker):

Website: Bowker ISBN

Australia (Thorpe-Bowker):

Website: Thorpe-Bowker ISBN

Ayesha Hilton

About Ayesha Hilton

Hello! I'm Ayesha (pronounced eye-sha). I am an avid card deck lover and collector. I publish my own card decks and teach other creators how to design, print, and publish their own card decks with courses and strategy sessions. I am passionate about supporting you to express your brilliance with the world!

Have fun creating!

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