First off, what is an ISBN number? Well, they are the black and white bar codes, usually found on the back cover of a book. ISBN stands for; International Standard Book Number and are used to identify the books title, publisher, edition and author.
Before the Internet, trying to find books, if you didn’t have the correct or full title, could cause lots of problems. Just think, no Amazon or Google to help you out! Also book titles are not exclusive or protected by copyright, so it is possible for different books to have the same title. Not forgetting that books can have different editions, or be in paperback or hardback, it’s easy to see how confusion sets in!
So, this is where ISBN numbers come in handy. They are used to identify books, and make it easy for readers to find exactly what they are looking for. Also, if you’re planning on selling your book through book shops, or in fact on sites like Amazon, then you must have one for your publication.
So, where do you get one? Well there are a few options – depending on your project. If you’re planning on writing several books, then I would suggest you go directly to Nielsens – who are the UK’s ISBN number agency. Once you have registered your publishing company, (not as scary as it sounds, but your publishing name will then appear on your title verso page, so give it some thought before you register!) you can then buy your numbers. However, you have to buy a minimum of 10, and they will set you back about £120.
If however you’re only planning on 1 or 2 books, you might want to consider an ISBN broker (of which Compass Publishing, the publisher for The Book Refinery is one) – but don’t forget, this company will then be your publisher, so make sure they will register your book on PubWeb, (more on that in a mo) and you will need their name when you typeset your book, and it should appear on your cover too.
So, what if you’re publishing a Kindle or e-book, do you need an ISBN for that? Well the good news is technically no, but certain distributors of e-Books do require you to have one. Amazon’s Kindle platform (at the moment) don’t need one, but other distributors like iBookstore and Sony do. Also, if you’re planning in selling your book through Smashwords, then you do require one!
In fact, here is what Smashwords have to say about ISBN number’s:
Smashwords retailers such as Apple and Sony will not accept your Smashwords book unless you have a unique e-ISBN. It is the primary digital identification number that many major online retailers use to track and catalog your books, and to report your sales back to Smashwords.*e-ISBN – everything at Smashwords is an e-book, and there isn’t such a thing as an e-ISBN, they are just ISBN’s 😉
So, to be safe, I would always recommend you get an ISBN number for your publication. This then allows you to market your book on many platforms, and keeps your publishing options open.
Publishing your book as a Kindle or e-pub may seem the cheapest option, but if you’re using it to generate leads, or using it as a platform for new clients to find you, just remember you have NO IDEA who is buying your e-book, and so therefore you can’t market to them. Food for thought!)
Once you’ve published your book, and it’s in print, or selling online… there is one more step!
So, what is PubWeb? PubWeb is a platform used by Nielsens to allow book sellers and libraries to gain information about your book. So for instance, say Mr Joe Blogs has heard of your book at some conference…and thinking you’re probably NOT on Amazon (not true, continue reading to find out why) he walks into his local Waterstone’s and asks about your book. He has your name, but can’t remember the full title – the helpful assistant logs into his system and after some searching, finds you! The clerk is then able to give Joe your details, inform him that in fact, you ARE listed on Amazon, and he goes away armed with information about how to buy your book. Very powerful. Now let’s take a quick peek as to why that’s happened.
After your book has been published, your publisher (or you, if you’ve bought your own block) should, as standard, list your book onto PubWeb. This then allows them (or you) to input all of the details of your book, from price, to edition, and where it’s available from. Also, when your publisher (or you) adds a book to PubWeb, it automatically gets listed on Amazon! Pretty impressive, so make sure this step is not missed.
ISBN’s are an essential component to your publishing project. If you’re planning on selling your book through book shops or Amazon, then you will need an ISBN number. If you’re publishing through the Kindle platform, or e-Book, I would consider getting an ISBN number as well (although technically for some e-book distributors you don’t need one). And lastly, whether you decide to buy your own block of ISBN numbers, or go through a broker (or publisher) just make sure you or they list your books on Pubweb.
If this all sounds really confusing, or your still unsure whether or not your publishing project needs an ISBN number, just get in touch. Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help. Or if you know you need an ISBN number, then click over to Compass-Publishing and get in touch. We’re here to help!