Did you know that even if you are publishing an ebook and/or paperback you probably want to get that book it’s own ISBN (International Standard Book Number)? Think about how hard it is working for you. Pimping itself with all that shiny bling! Occasionally having to show some leg and offer itself up for $.99 cents or unbuttoning another button and giving it away for free during an Amazon KDP run? Think about how it’s poor spine must feel day and day out and how hard it is going to keep track of once it clones itself into a paperback or hard back for that matter! ISBN’s are for ALL books, not just the ones holding up the ends of night stands or balancing a cup of coffee next to the bed (yes yes I just
spoke typed something sacrilegious!)
Bowker is the official distributor in the US and the one that the Library of Congress links too. Smashwords will give you a free one put you under their grouping as long as you agree to have your gorgeous book
tramp-stamped with SMASHWORDS and be listed in their Premium Catalog. So basically it says Smashwords is the publisher NOT you. Of course they say that this is not true. Semantics in my opinion, but I maybe wrong. All I do know is far as Bowker is concerned they are. Honestly you can and have no worries and take it wherever you want, but I for one would want to brand that puppy with Cabin Goddess after all my hard work. It may not make a difference at first and you will be able to get it out there faster. SO the choice is yours.
**Innana of By Light Unseen Media (an actual small book press guys) corrected me and she is absolutely right I called and asked my old editor why we did change ISBN’s when we updated covers and content. We were not an ebook company so if it went back to print then there would usually be a new cover and new for inside and we would be calling it a 2nd edition because of the cost issues. See below:
“HOWEVER: You do NOT need a new ISBN for minor changes to the book such as changing the cover (never!), adding a preface or intro or “teaser chapter,” reformatting or redesigning the interior, or making minor revisions and corrections. Only if the work is substantially changed, such that you’d call it “2nd edition” and so on, do you need to assign a new ISBN. Of course, if the book changes publishers, such as if your rights revert and you re-issue it yourself, it absolutely must have a new ISBN.”
If you head on over there, you can read what they tell you. Personally I think it is worded to intimidate you into believing that their way is the only way. I think it is a great alternative, but for the last year areas have opened up that do not limit you to their service, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sony and iTunes. Again if I ever get my book finished and am going the route of self publishing, I am making sure Bowker knows your happy ass is the one that paid for that beauties plastic surgery, spa days, chemical peels and all those massages you gave it each after each and every time you edited and rewrote the last chapter.
“The purpose of the ISBN is to identify one specific version of a book. If you wish to have a hard bound copy, a soft bound copy, an ePUB, a PDF, a MOBI, or even register a new version, you will need a unique ISBN for each version. This allows retailers to help the customer understand exactly which version of a title they are purchasing.”
Now a barcode is something different, it is like your books first Tattoo when it is making it big on those local coffee shop tours and your weekend signing at Barnes and Noble. A barcode is a graphical representation of your book’s ISBN and price. It includes all the pricing information and your ISBN on it. (It will have both encoded if your book was published before 2007). You easily get them anywhere around the net generating them one at a time for free at many sites getting a TIFF of the barcode generated. WASP Barcode Technologies is actually a decent place and what our publishing house used. In fact I used them for my mother’s children’s books. However, Bowkers meets all the industry standards for retail. No matter where you go you are going to get it you will need:
- An ISBN
- Retail or List Price Information
One of my main jobs when working for the publishing house was creating the barcodes for each book, double checking the ISBN’s supplied to us by authors, and also in all our catalogs, plus making sure we had the book in all it’s formats and editions listed down at the University of Chicago catalog and on PubNet. (PubNet is amazing and if you are a dreamer you are going to want to research it, but for now lets stick to making your book work for you!)
At the beginning when the book is hanging out on the fringes and working its way into the inner circle you will need to worry about three sets of numbers, your UPC, ISBN (or EAN if you’re in Europe) and the Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs) If you live in the US and go through Bowker, it costs $125 for each single ISBN purchase. (you gonna stamp a ho with a bic pen, a ligher and safety pin? Or are you going to take her down to your local clean and HEP C free tattoo parlor!)
At Bowker, $250 will get you 10, so if you change that book cover or do any different things such as adding a teaser chapter you will need another ISBN so getting that package makes sense. You do not want to just have one book to pimp out, you want a stable right? Heck if you really wanna have fun and have the bucks you can purchase them like Smashwords does from Bowker, For 1,000 you can get 1,000 ISBN’s. Heck that is only a buck a number (see they are making a profit on this $9.99 purchases and can afford to give it away free… they be 50cent ‘ing it!)
It was put this way on one site
“…when broken down, [the ISBN] indicates where a book was published, in what format, and by who. It also keeps track of how many editions are out there. It’s needed so royalty payments and money from sales can be directed to the proper publisher for distribution to the author. It is, if you like, a way to track inventory, like a SKU on retail items in other kinds of merchandising.”
Want a simple visual? Amazon has a nice little break down HERE
Could I be wrong on some points? HECK ya, which is why since the bitch is your book, and wearing your skin you best be checking out the info and not listening to some crazy bacon eating cabin hippie girl. The industry changes all the time. ISBN’s before 2006 were only 9 numbers and now they are 13. Which is why you sometimes see both, because they will have released the same edition but it was pre 13 numbers so they get two ISBNs, well truly it is the same one when plugged in they translate to the same info, (I think you get what I mean right?) Some things are constant, but you need to stay informed. Bowker for the US is the ONLY Place that you can get the reliable and secure numbers.
So you want to pimp that book? Anywhere you can? Treat it like what it is, one of your babies and get it an
social security number ISBN.
PS on another note (see comments) AN ISBN does not have info for SELLING it is for tracking, it shows where your book is selling, how many have sold. UPC is the code that says HEY this is how much, this is the info that the retailers need for inventory . yada, yada see the pretty little graphic above explaining it. I think people are confusing the two and that maybe because I assumed that everyone knows the difference. No harm, you throw a few acronyms out and who wouldn’t be confused! Again, an ISBN is like a social security card, an ident-card, a number that allows it to be. Saying that Amazon will do it for you with their number is fine, but it is only going to sell there. B&N require an ISBN. CreateSpace gives you one, yes just like Smashwords, they are listed with Bowker as the publishers. Hey, do not take my word (as I prefaced about) You should be doing the research and making sure. Again that book is your baby! Don’t you want it to grow?
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