3 S.R. Johannes: All About ISBNs by Lisa Nowak (Running Wide Open)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

All About ISBNs by Lisa Nowak (Running Wide Open)

Some Housekeeping stuff

1) Yikes - I almost forgot to announce the winner(s) of lurker day contest and books are the following lurkers drawn randomly...

Julianna - 
Rachele Alpine
Yat Yee
Amber Cuadra
Tricia OBrien

Congrads and email me your address and whether you want middle grade or young adult and I'll give you a couple to choose from. Thank for coming out to say hi and I hope to see you all again :)

2) In case you haven't heard, my Untraceable Official Blog tour has started and I've had a few stops:
Now here is Lisa on EVERYTHING You need to know about ISBNs and why to get them.

Some Facts about ISBNs: A Guest Post by Lisa Nowak

Lisa is the author of Running Wide Open, the first book in the Full Throttle series. The second book, Getting Sideways, will be released after Thanksgiving. http://lisanowak.wordpress.com/  http://amzn.to/RWOAmazon

Cody Everett has a temper as hot as the flashpoint of racing fuel, and it's landed him at his uncle's trailer, a last-chance home before military school. But how can he take the guy seriously when he calls himself Race, eats Twinkies for breakfast, and pals around with rednecks who drive in circles every Saturday night?

What Cody doesn't expect is for the arrangement to work. Or for Race to become the friend and mentor he's been looking for all his life. But just as Cody begins to settle in and get a handle on his supercharged temper, a crisis sends his life spinning out of control. Everything he's come to care about is threatened, and he has to choose between falling back on his old, familiar anger or stepping up to prove his loyalty to the only person he's ever dared to trust.

There’s a lot of confusion about ISBNs, so I considered myself fortunate when I got the opportunity to attend a presentation that covered them in depth. The information presented was both useful and interesting. Here are some of the things I learned:

Whoever owns or provides the ISBN for a book is the publisher. If you allow CreateSpace or Smashwords to assign an ISBN, they’re listed as the publisher with Bowker, who distributes such information to retailers. If you secure the ISBN yourself, you’re considered the publisher (even if you use Smashwords to upload the book).

An ISBN is necessary if someone is going to take orders for your book. The exception is distributors like Amazon.com because they have their own numbering system. However it’s wise to have an ISBN for those books, too. It makes you look more professional. Some distributors, like Smashwords, will give you the option of getting your ISBN from them, however you can still use your own.

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. You can get them at Myidentifiers.com https://www.myidentifiers.com/index.php?ci_id=1479 or go directly through Bowker.com. http://bowker.com/


This is an ISBN 10.

The 1st number is the group number and will be 0 or 1 in English-speaking countries.

The 2nd number defines the publisher. This number will be smaller for very large publishers who handle a great number of books, and larger for small publishers who handle only a few books.

The 3rd number is the item number. This number will be larger for very small publishers who handle only a few books, and smaller for large publishers who handle a great number of books.

The 4th number is the check number. If for some reason the other data is mis-entered, this number will show up as incorrect. This is a bit confusing, but I think it’s an indicator that the person handling the numbers needs to check for mistakes.

The number of digits in the publisher number reflects the size of the publisher.

Item #                           Number of Publishers             

6 digits                                     20
5 digits                                     500
4 digits                                     1,500
3 digits                                     5,000
2 digits                                     50,000
1 digit                                       500,000

By looking at the ISBN, a knowledgeable person can tell the size of a publishing company.

ISBN 13 was developed in January 2007. It adds an EAN Country Code to the ISBN. An EAN is a 13-digit European Article Number, though it’s now called an International Article Number even though the acronym begins with an “E”. It’s basically an international UPC code and it’s used for other products than just books.

With an EAN, the first 3 digits represent the country where the company is registered, but not necessarily where the product is made. Numbers between 000-019 refer to the US and Canada. However, books have their own special code. The EAN Country Code in an ISBN is “978” which refers to an imaginary country called “Bookland”. And you thought this was going to be boring. :)


1 = $125
10 = $250
100 = $575
1000 = $1000

Once you’ve finished your book, go to Bowkerlink.com or MyIdentifiers.com and fill out a form that identifies you as a publisher. When you begin publishing, start an account where you can fill out the information that will become the metadata for the book. This is information that will appear to booksellers, readers, etc. to list the author, title, publisher, and so forth. You can see this info for yourself in the shareware file conversion program, Calibre. It doesn’t really matter which site you use, as the MyIdentifier data will flow into Bowker. Also, your password and ID will get you into both sites.

Once you’ve assigned an ISBN to a book you can’t undo it. You can make minor changes to correct spelling and so forth, but if you’re releasing a new issue, or making major revisions you need to use a new ISBN. You also can’t reuse an ISBN for another book.

If you have any problems figuring out how to work with your ISBN, you can call Bowker and they’ll walk you through it step-by step.

You can also get all-in-one barcodes that include UPC, ISBN and pricing from Bowker. They’re $25 each and are sent to you as a JPEG to put on the back cover. (Obviously this doesn’t include the original cost of the ISBN.)

The ISBN identifies only one iteration of a title. If you’re doing a hardcover, paperback, audio book and ebook, you need separate ISBNs. According to Bowker, each different format of an ebook also needs its own ISBN. That means one for Mobi (Kindle) and one for ePub (Nook and most others). I also use a separate one for Smashwords just to be safe.

If you buy a block of 100 ISBNS and use 40, you can sell the other 60. However, whoever you sell them to will be considered the publisher of all 100, so be careful about this.

If you want to buy more ISBNs the publisher number will be different, but they’ll still be assigned to you or your company as a publisher.

You can do an ISBN search at bookwire.com. http://bookwire.com/

 YOu can follow Lisa on Twitter or at her Blog.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome blog tour so far Shelli.

Lisa, thanks for sharing all the info on ISBN's. There's a lot to know about them. If I ever decide to get one, I'll be referring back to your post.

Elle Strauss said...

Learn something new everyday! Thanks Lisa!

DL Hammons said...

Yet another awesome post in the series. Thank you for the information Lisa! :)

Susan R. Mills said...

Interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing.

Kelly Polark said...

Extremely informative!

Laura Pauling said...

I have a question.

If I were to self publish, from what I can tell, the single most reason to buy an ISBN is to be more professional? Most readers don't look at that. And smart ones will know you're self publishing by the price of the book.

Is there a more convincing reason outside of looking more professional? I would think the money put into cover design and editing will show that.

And I'm pretty sure retailers won't be fooled either. Is that the main reason? For the off chance retailers will want to buy the book? I just don't see that happening with self published books. It rarely happens with small press books.

I'm not trying to be a pain. But it's just been recently that I've heard people mention the isbn number. It seems more of an image thing. Am I wrong?

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Laura - you dont need one if you only plan to do ebooks.

If you do paperbacks or hardbacks at all pr ever want to do a book signing at a store - majority of bookstores and librarians will never buy your book unless it has an ISBN - that is how they look it up.

Same thing with cover. If you just do ebooks - you may not spend as much on cover but you definitely don't want a chinsy one - readers can tell and you want the cover to pull people in so they buy your ebook.

If you decide to do paperback or hardback - the cover does in fact matter and they store scan tell the difference.

does that help?

lisanowak said...

Thanks for your question, Laura. The point isn't to fool anyone. It's about how you conduct business. There are many things you can do as a business person to establish yourself as a professional vs. a hobbyist, not just in publishing, but in any venture. However, that's only part of it. An ISBN is an internationally recognized tracking number. If you want your book to have universal sales potential, you need an ISBN. Without it, you're limiting yourself. As Shelli said, it's helpful when you're doing things like book signings or putting your book on consignment in stores--something I've encountered directly. The ISBN itself tells retailers how big or small your publishing company is, so it's not like you could fool anyone, anyway.

I think anyone attempting to be a successful indie author needs to look at all aspects of publishing from a professional angle. And that includes things like cover and editing. It's all part of establishing your brand and instilling trust in your customer.

Rachele Alpine said...

Yay! I'm so glad being a lurker paid off! :) And Lisa's book is AWESOME! I had the honor of reading it in draft form, and I highly recommend it. This was a great guest post!

Jemi Fraser said...

Really good information - thank you. I've bookmarked this for future reference :)

The book sounds terrific too - off to check it out!