Bowker’s ISBN Site Has Been Down for the Past Week

Bowker's ISBN Site Has Been Down for the Past Week Publishing

It's not just you., the site in charge of ISBN registrations and sales in the US, has been down for the past week. What was originally planned to be a one-day maintenance period has stretched on for a week, with no end date in sight.

Bowker has not explained why the site remains down, merely telling visitors that the site "is currently undergoing an extended maintenance window".

I do however have a report from an author who told me their rarely-used credit card was stolen after they used it buy ISBNs from, so perhaps Bowker found more security issues than they were expecting.

Update: It has been confirmed. The site is down because it was hacked, and credit card numbers were being stolen

P.S. You can still submit data for a previously purchased ISBN (this is handled through another portal.) You can even buy a block of ISBNs - you just have to fax the order in.


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Will Entrekin30 October, 2018

    When you can’t even monopoly right.


    Wondering two things:
    – Are the corporate publishers able to buy blocks right now? They likely have a separate portal, right?
    – Do you think Bowker will mention this when they note that self-published ebooks have seen a decline when they inevitably look at their own ISBNs to measure sales/market next year?

    1. Nate Hoffelder30 October, 2018

      you can buy blocks – you just have to fax the order in (or mail it)

      I’m not fucking kidding

  2. Erron Adams31 October, 2018

    I just bought a block by email, bloody nuisance. Also, it’s been a long time since a business charged me to register, so they could then sell me stuff!

  3. Flora Brown31 October, 2018

    We may be able to buy blocks of ISBNs but I can’t access the ones I already own so I can submit a title to the list The page they offer to enable me to register a new title asks for the ISBN of the title I want to submit. How can I do that if I can’t see my numbers that are unassigned? Gr-r-r-r! I was all set to publish a new book this week, but without being able to assign an ISBN to the new book, I can’t proceed. I was hoping it would be available for sale online the first week of November, but that’s not happening.

    To make this even more fun, the page where you can supposedly view your account hasn’t been updated since 2017 and is clearly not set up to enable me to view my account.
    View my Account in BowkerLink
    Last Updated: Sep 15, 2017 Article Number: 9915

    1. Nate Hoffelder31 October, 2018

      what a mess!

  4. Robert Zoltan31 October, 2018

    I emailed the order form in yesterday, but only get a response welcoming me to the site and asking me to log in, which of course I cannot do since the site is having maintenance done. I am afraid to fax my order in as well because they may charge me twice. How long does it usually take them to respond to orders? Very frustrating.


    1. Lori Shandle-Fox20 November, 2018

      Robert, just curious if you have done anything to obtain ISBNs since this post. I’m very frustrated with them. The site is still down. How can they expect people to fax their credit card info to them when the “secure” site was hacked and credit card info stolen? I did the online chat with someone at the place they send you to purchase one ISBN. She told me that we could just fax in the rest of the info and they would call us to get the cc info. The website says to “allow up to a week” but it’s been nearly 2 weeks and nobody has called me. (I sent a follow-up fax after a week.) When I call there, Tim says that he’s not near the department that takes the faxes off of the machine so he doesn’t know how backed up they are and can’t find out how much longer we have to wait. Fab customer service. It’s not like anybody tries to get books out in October or November.

  5. Dean31 October, 2018

    I bought several ISBN’s from (Bowker’s website) using two different credit cards in October 2018. One credit card was immediately compromised with bogus charges made elsewhere and I had to close the account. I got calls from both credit card companies that charges made to “Bowker” was on a suspicious list because the cards numbers are being stolen. That is why their site is down now going on a week. I am unable to use the $425 worth of ISBNs I purchased because I can’t log in to activate them. I had planned to publish a book on October 31st and now I can’t get the ISBNs i paid for. Very frustrating…

  6. Aria31 October, 2018

    Following the same frustrations about not being able to access my list of ISBNs, I checked bowkerlink again just now. It seems they updated it, since now I can see my list of owned ISBNs. Maybe if folks check again, they’ll have access to that too.

    Still really doesn’t excuse not notifying people if credit cards have been compromised.

  7. S. J. Pajonas1 November, 2018

    So, there’s no way for me to access the ISBNs I bought and assign them to new books? I’m looking and I don’t see that ability anywhere. Grrrr.


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