Thursday, January 20, 2011

ISBN info

Have you ever wondered where ISBNs  (that 13-digit number and barcode) come from? An excellent source of information is the International ISBN Agency. Their FAQ page answers questions such as I am not a publisher; can I still obtain an ISBN? (The answer is Yes, by the way.) Links to the many national ISBN agencies are there, and quite a bit more info.

If you’re an author who is working on a digital version of an out-of-print or new book, of special interest is a PDF with the title Guidelines for the assignment of ISBNs to e-books. It answers questions such as If I publish in two or more different file formats (e.g. epub, PDF) should I assign separate ISBNs? and How can all the different versions of an e-book be linked together?


There is now a page on our blog called Indie Links where useful info about independent publishing of digital books will be found. Pages can be accessed using the green tabs along the top.

3 comments:

  1. This is such an important topic (although not a very glamorous one). I wrote an article on my blog a while back called "Why Apps need ISBN numbers" at http://dulemba.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-apps-need-isbn-numbers.html . Granted, it's already showing it's age as things are moving so rapidly in this business and affiliate purchasing of ebooks is now becoming possible, but it might make a good companion read. Thanks for posting this Loreen! :) e

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  2. An ISBN number is the way to keep track of different editions for different formats, so it would be nice if every retailer used them (right Apple?)

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  3. No, not glam, but important, even to novelists, for whom it might be a little less complicated. I was just researching this for myself. Lots of self-publishing ventures like Amazon's CreateSpace provide authors free ISBNs, but then CreateSpace is the publisher of record. As I understand it, if you want to offer your ebook through channels other than Amazon, you couldn't use the Amazon-provided ISBN, you'd have to get another one. It might be best to purchase blocks of ISBNs from R. R. Bowker directly.

    I found this post on obtaining your own ISBNs. It's five years old, but I think it's still valid.

    And here's R.R. Bowker's site, which tells you how to apply for blocks of ten ISBNs (around $250).

    -- Laura

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