get started with ISBN
Please query the R. R. Bowker for general ISBN questions, not this publishing company.
Click here for PDF FAQ provided by Bowker May, 2009
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ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and is usually associated with a unique ten (old) or thirteen (current format) digit number and optional barcode identifier in books and publications published on an international level. This number is assigned to a publication from the "publisher's" prefix group - ultimately from R. R. Bowker (USA) - http://www.isbn.org. A number only applies to the publication from that publisher - in that format only. This establishes this edition separate from any other variations (format, publisher, etc.), and allows for more efficient marketing to distributors, wholesalers, booksellers, and libraries that key on ISBN. In other words, if there is an ISBN on a hardbound book, a softbound edition can't use the same number. Some printers and publishers have numbers that can either be used for free, or for a small fee for publications. Additionally, regardless of who produces the book, one can purchase their own block of numbers. This may help if there is no plan to stay with the same production company. If one uses "printer A's" ISBN for the first edition and for your second printing use "printer B" - you can not use "printer A's" ISBN on the second edition, and printer A's ISBN will probably be listed out of print or not available as your business association ends. However, if you had your own ISBN, it could be used for the second printing (providing the book product was the same). For more information, check out the ISBN site above. Additionally, an ISBN barcode may be required by bookstores, if you wish your book to be carried with them.
R. R. Bowker, as America's ISBN agency, requires for fair use that the ISBN be printed on the bottom third of the book's verso (reverse of title page) as well as the bottom third of the back cover (barcode optional). This can be accomplished during publishing, or after a published book has been completed with printed labels. Additionally, the owner of the ISBN is required to complete the application online to activate the number. ISBN fair use also states that any promotional material, for a book carrying an ISBN, should include the ISBN.
An activated ISBN places the unique edition of that title in the "Books in Print" reference series, available in print and online from many different places. Additionally, it places the book in the database that most large chain bookstores and many smaller book shops use to special order titles. This is a way to get the local bookstore, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million to "carry" the book without losing inventory control, or paying for the privilege, but not Amazon. If an author has their own ISBN, they fill these orders directly. Generally, if a publisher ISBN is used, a copy or two stays with the publisher to fill these orders.
Sometimes called a "Bookland EAN" barcode, the code that sometimes appears on the back of the book with the printed ISBN, can be used to embed pricing and/or track inventory with special software. It is a specific pattern made up of individual bars and spaces, carrying a specific message, readable by electronic means (scanner). Most distributors require this bar code, as do some wholesalers and booksellers. A barcode can also make the acquisition job at large libraries easier.
Other traditional optional elements that can positively effect sales:
For more suggestions on this subject and more, order our book:
G5505-$20.00 WRITING Family History Or Genealogy For Pleasure and Profit Complete Edition, by Gregath Company, Inc., *updated* 2015. ISBN: 0-944619-00-2, 8½x11", softbound book, 126 pages, suggestions & examples of all facets of your project for the typist and/or computer user. Also available on disk.
Page Last Updated: December 16, 2016
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