If you want to sell your old textbooks and outdated books but don’t know their ISBNs, this short guide is for you.

What is ISBN?

An ISBN is a series of numbers on the back cover of a book. This is a 10 or 13-number code that every book published in the United States has since 1970. Books published before that decade may have Standard Book Numbers (SBN), or, unfortunately, they may have no identifying numerals at all.

Where Is the ISBN on a Book?

An ISBN is a series of numbers usually appearing on the back cover above the barcode. It can also be printed on the copyright page.

How to Find the ISBN of a Book?

If you don’t know how to find an ISBN number, check the book’s back, copyright page, or any inner pages at the back and the front of the book.

Books with No ISBN

Before the identification system was formalized in 1970, other information was used to identify books. Here is what you can research to understand the value of a book:

  • Check the book title, its author, editor, and even illustrator—this information may help find ISBN number by title—if it exists but wasn’t printed for some reason.
  • Find the name of the publisher and the publishing date. If you don’t know where to find the year a book was published, check the copyright page.
  • Check the book’s edition. First editions can be pretty expensive.
  • Take a look at the book’s binding (paperback or hardcover).
  • Check if there are any signatures or inscriptions.

Once you’ve acquired all this information, you can try offering your old books for sale on various online platforms.

Sell Your Books with BookScouter

Don’t worry: if your book doesn’t seem to have an ISBN, you can still sell it using BookScouter. The website features a handy search tool. Enter information about the book you’ve already researched—its title, author, and publication date —in the form provided. We can try to locate the ISBN for you.

Alas, if your book really doesn’t have an ISBN, we can’t help you sell it on BookScouter. Our vendors require each of the books they buy to have one. However, many other dealers buy and sell rare books, collectible books, and first edition books. They include AbeBooks, Peter Harrington Books, and Bauman Rare Books, among others. With the information you’ve gathered about your books, you can try offering them on these websites.


So, sell your rare or antique book to an appropriate dealer, but don’t forget about BookScouter as the best place to sell your used textbooks and other works you won’t read again.