Basics of ISBN

When you finish writing your book, the next natural step is to get it published.

Assuming you are thinking about self-publishing your manuscript, you will need to look for a company to buy an ISBN from.

An ISBN is a number that is internationally recognized in order to catalog your book. This began due to the issues when titles of the book were the same but their authors and content of books were different. So in order to solve this issue, numbers were assigned to the books.

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, and you will come to learn that a ISBN is fairly expensive. Through the years the price for the ISBN number has increased in order to prevent people from publishing. This is because so many people realized that they could publish, and with the invention of e-books it made it so much easier.

The history continues… it was at this point that everyone rushed to get ISBNs. This is when the cost of ISBN shot up and today for a single registered number you have to pay $125, $250 for 10, $575 for 100 and $1000 for 1000 ISBNs. Its usually the publishers that buy in bulk.

Sadly, this discouraging technique didn’t work so well because now e-books at Amazon are really just spam books filled with links to website content, which is kind of sick.

Anyhow, you still cannot publish a book without an ISBN. Often self-publishing companies give you an ISBN as part of the publishing package that you buy. I know that Amazon takes a percentage of your income in exchange for an ISBN which they own, but Smashwords provide you the ISBN for free.

The company that handles ISBN is Bowker. They happen to be the only company out there from which you can directly buy an ISBN. Other than selling ISBNs, they also provide self-publishing packages and eBook packages.

Something to remember – When you publish your book and assign an ISBN to it, that number is from then on exclusive to that version of the book. You cannot use the same ISBN for different later version of a different format. Basically, your paperback, hardcover and digital book will all have different ISBNs.

You also cannot reuse your ISBN if the changes you are making to the manuscript is more than a typo. Anything above typos or minor editing requires a fresh ISBN.

Important factor to remember is that ISBN is different from ISSN.

People commonly mistake ISSN for ISBN. So what is the difference? An ISBN is an exclusive number given to your book to catalog it across the globe so that it can be recognized by something more than its name. This also makes it easier to find your book when searched. An ISSN on the other hand is an International Standard Serial Number which is used inside your own country. These numbers are used only for tracking purposes within Libraries or stores.

Generally publishers own their own ISSN and if you have a publisher it shouldn’t be an issue to worry about. But if you are thinking about going into your own business, you will need to get yourself an ISSN.

Although this is all very common knowledge, yet sometimes it’s just good to get a refresher.

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