3 S.R. Johannes: ebook eXperiment: Those pesky little ISBNs!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

ebook eXperiment: Those pesky little ISBNs!

**Sorry about the late post - my son was sick today!** Thanks for the little notes and tweets asking me when I was posting today! It's nice to be missed. :)

This week
  • Budget hasn't changed ---yet.
  • I am working to get book to copyedits - people who signed up for the ebook tour should get their review copy the week of Oct 17th which gives you 6 weeks to read.
  • Oh yeah - and I'm much more scared this week, wondering if I made a huge mistake in doing this or that it is going to fail but trying to ignore those thoughts. THIS IS HARD WORK! Definitely not the easy way out!
Because I have gotten asked about paperbacks - I am looking in it. The more I looked into libraries and schools - the more I realized they don't all have access to ebooks. Question is how - Lightning source or Createspace?

I'll talk more about that next week. Buy yay!


Today I want to talk about ISBNs b/c I am still figuring these little stinkers out, but here is what I know (or think I know) so far:

Why do you need one? 
  • Your book and you appear more professional. Think of them like business cards. You don't need one, but if you don't have one - you may not appear credible.
  • They stay with the book for life.
  • The distribution is wider especially with schools and libraries. That is how most of them order books so you are cutting out your market if you don't get one.
  • It's best to buy ISBNs in blocks of 10, 100 etc - that way you can use them for other books or when publishing new editions that have changed.
What do the 13 digits mean?
  • A "978" prefix
  • A group or country identifier;
  • The publisher identifier; (This is you!)
  • The title identifier, which is for a particular title or edition;
  • A "check digit" at the end, which validates the ISBN
  • You do not need one for Amazon. They assign their own number. ASIN
  • You do not need one for Barnes and Noble. They assign their own number.
  • You do need one for iTunes/iBooks.
  • If you use Smashwords, they can assign one for their customers. But I believe it is only good for Smashwords. You can get a free one and list Smashwords as publisher or you can be a premium member and pay 10$ for your own.
  • You have to have a different ISBN for different formats - so ebook formats would each need 1 and paperback would be another.
  • Make sure it is 13 digits (not 10) - most places require 13.
  • You can buy them from Bowker or isbn.org - 10 costs about $275.
  • Even when you have an ISBN - you must register them at Bowker. 
  • A self pub ISBN has a number that identifies it as an indie/self pub book so bookstores know when they see it.
  • ISBN goes on the copyright page. And above the scan code on a physical book.
  • If you want a library to order - you will also need a LCCN.
  • You need an ISBN for each ebook file you publish (epub, etc) - I'm still trying to figure out what this means. So now I think I have to buy 10.
  • On some books you may see a 10 digit ISBN and a 13 digit - They changed the format a few years ago and kept both identifiers.
So basically if I do ebook and B&N, Amazon, and Smashwords. I will need ISBNs (again I think they are important) for each format as well as for paperback. 

So looks like I'm going to have to add about $275 to my budget? Sigh.

If you have any additional tips or clarifications - let me know!


Anonymous said...

I don't recall Bowker asking me if I was an indie author when I bought my ISBNs. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure they just sold me the next ten they had in line. I guess this is something I'll have to look into.

Bowker is really easy to work with. Easier than the copyright office and much, much easier than Google Books (don't even get me started about them).

As far as I could tell, you need one ISBN for Mobi, one for ePub, and one for Smashwords. I'm not really sure how it works with them since they do multiple formats, but each format technically is supposed to get its own. At least that's what I've heard from various sources.

Bowker has several PDFs you can download to learn more about ISBNs

Thanks for the tip about the LCCN. I'll have to look into those.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the tips. I know paperbacks are more expensive but it might be a way to get your book out more to libraries who like you said don't have e-books and to kids who may not have e-readers.

Hope your son feels better.

Nicole Settle said...

It's funny that I learned more about ISBNs here then in library school. Although any time I'm instructed to write a professional review or make a booklist I always have to cite the ISBN-13 number. They're ubiquitous but I never knew what all the numbers meant until now.

Susan R. Mills said...

Interesting stuff. I just went back and read the last few posts. This is all great info for anyone who chooses to self pub. I'm bookmarking it for future reference.

Heidi Willis said...

All of this gives me a headache!! And reinforces there is no easy path to take in this industry.

I have no doubt if any one can do it professionally, you can.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow. ISBNs sound really complicated. Makes my head hurt. LOL :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm with Shannon! I didn't realize it was so complicated!

DL Hammons said...

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record...but this series ROCKS!!!