Almost all ISO-standards/deliverables cost the equivalent of a well researched specialized management book. The main reason prices vary seems to be the difference in local cost for translating, maintaining, promoting, printing, managing the standard. In general, the NSBs set their own prices for nationally adopted ISO-standards and national standards.
ISO 26000 is an International Standard that was published by ISO after 5 years of development between early 2005 and October 2010. The draft international standard from May 2010 is still available for free at the ISO Working Group site, and can be downloaded as “ISO/DIS 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility“. This is an exception to ISO-copyright procedures but as many changes were made to this draft it only gives an indication of what the standard looks like. The final International Standard ISO 26000 was much improved compared to the May 2010 draft international standard. and is as almost all ISO standards/deliverables protected under copyright law. This means that the standard must be purchased from the National Standards Bodies or from ISO and can not be distributed freely.
ISO-standards are in general priced based on number of pages and ISO 26000 contains many pages. National Standards Bodies set the local price and currently prices range between approximately EURO 19-254 / USD 20-265 depending on which country ISO 26000 is purchased in/from.
Some institutions have published good books and other documents explaining ISO 26000. However, a strong recommendation is to buy the standard ISO 26000 before you buy any other publication trying to explain ISO 26000. The standard is well written and easy enough to understand.
A few copies of ISO 26000 are available for free
An agreement has been made with an NSB that 100 copies of ISO 26000 can be printed and sent to individuals that attend the basic training session that is offered by for free. Priority will be given to individuals from underfunded businesses, organizations and regions, or organizations that find it difficult to purchase the standard in their country. Contact the author of ISO26000.info if you are interested in a free copy of ISO 26000 in English, or if you want to sponsor more copies to be made available for free.
Special thanks to the following persons who helped making the first copies available for free:
Mr. Einar Söderberg (Sweden), Mr. Kernaghan Webb (Canada), Mr. Ricky Fukada (Japan)