Self-funded Publication in Malaysia

by The JADE

Are you interested in publishing a self-funded book in Malaysia? Are you unsure of the procedure? Are you uncertain of whether to go through a publisher? Are you wondering if you can apply for ISBN as an individual? Are you wondering how to apply for it?

Perhaps you once tried publishing a self-funded book but were put off by problems encountered along the way. If you would like to retry or learn more about the process, this article on self-funded publication will be helpful for you.

Generally, once a manuscript is ready, the author (here refers to the person who wishes to self-publish a book) needs to proceed to proofreading, typesetting, the design, ISBN and CIP application, and printing house sourcing. Among these steps, ISBN and CIP application is the most unfamiliar process to most authors.

What is ISBN?

To publish a book, one must apply for an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) from the National Library of Malaysia. Both individuals and publishers can apply for it.

ISBN, also known as Nombor Buku Piawaian Antarabangsa in Malay, usually appears on the copyright page or the back cover of a book or magazine. It is a unique set of numbers assigned to each book (including e-books).

The number works as an identification for each book, which is important in the management of book orders and book inventory for publishers and distributors. ISBN has brought great convenience to the book industry.

What is CIP?

After receiving the ISBN from the National Library, the author must also apply for a Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) record. CIP, also known as Pengkatalogan Dalam Penerbitan (PDP) in Malay, is a system for classifying and cataloguing literature resources and creating a collection catalogue.

How to Apply?

On 25 January 2021, the National Library of Malaysia introduced an electronic system known as Sistem Depositori for greater efficiency. Both individuals and publishers can now apply for ISBN or CIP online on their website.

The first step is to create and sign up for an account. Next, fill in relevant information and submit the materials needed, including the photocopy of the Certificate of Incorporation or the Identification Card of an individual, individuals or publishers before starting the online application.

To apply for ISBN, the book cover, copyright page, abstract and table of contents must be attached. In addition, for company application, the attached information and documents should come with the company seal. On the other hand, for the application of CIP, the book cover, copyright page, abstract, table of contents and other supporting documents should be uploaded.

According to the official website, ISBN will generally be issued within one working day, while CIP takes three working days. Please note that ISBN applications submitted after 3:30pm will be processed the next day. For instance, if you apply on Tuesday 4pm, you will receive your result by Thursday.

After the completion of printing, five copies must be delivered to the National Library, either by post or personal delivery. If the publication is an e-book, you can submit the copy through the system mentioned earlier.

The electronic reformation has not only enabled better management and preservation of materials in the National Library, but also provided great convenience to individuals or publishers who intend to publish.

When to Apply?

Typically, you can start applying one month or six weeks before the launching of a book. For example, if an author decides to release a book in June, he/she can start applying for the ISBN in mid-April. It is expected that the application of ISBN and CIP can be successfully completed within two weeks, and there will still be enough time for the designer to do final amendments. After confirming the final document, it will be handed over to the printing house. Usually, the printing house will first print a template. After confirming the colours and specifications, the final printing will then begin.

The estimated printing time is around one month’s time, but it also varies depending on the quantity, special requirements or the peak and off season. Please reserve some time for unforeseen emergencies. In order to classify Chinese books more efficiently, The JADE team once had to translate book titles, abstract and other related information of Chinese books into English or Malay, as the staff members from the CIP department could not read and understand Chinese.


You can check all of the application status on the system.

If you are planning to publish a book, but do not wish to deal with the tedious procedure, please contact The JADE Studio for professional assistance. We are a one-stop centre which provides consultation, editing, typesetting, design and printing services for self-funded publications, allowing authors to focus fully on writing and contents development—a hassle-free experience. The JADE also works on the sales and marketing plan with authors, helping your book to improve visibility and reach wider audience.

Featrured Image: Photo by NMG Network on Unsplash