.You’ve made a lot of decisions up to this point, and they are far from over. One of the most important one you will need to make soon is to ISBN or not.
ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a unique identifier used to identify comercially available books. ISBN number are 13 digit numbers (before 2007 they were 10 digit numbers). There are several articles online that describe how to read an ISBN number. Check this one out at The Book Designer.
So you may be scratching your head wondering why I’m even taking the time to write a blog post about ISBNs. It seems obvious. Every book should have an ISBN.
While that is true, the indie published author can quickly get confused. At a bare minimum, if you have decided to publish your book using KDP, Amazon’s self publishing platform, you will be given the option to use an AISN, Amazon’s book identifier. It seems like the easy option, after all, it’s free. But wait. You can’t use an AISN on another site, say Barnes and Noble. Amazon also offers to sell you an ISBN number. While this might be a good option, realize that by doing this Amazon is considered the publisher not you. Same thing, if you want your book in independent bookstores and libraries, you need an official ISBN.
There is only one official site to purchase ISBN numbers, www.myidentifiers.com by Bowker. One ISBN number is approximately $125. They do sell them in blocks of 10 for $295. It’s a much better deal to buy a block of numbers (and by doing so, you have complete control). PLUS and this is important, if you intend to publish your book in hardcover, paperback, and ebook versions you need a unique ISBN for each version!
You may be tempted to purchase an ISBN through a reseller or other “publishing” company. If you do this you are risking a lot. That company is considered the publisher (while they may not have monetary rights – be sure to read the fine print) what happens if they go out of business? Suddenly your book can no longer be found in books in print and all your hard work has to start fresh with a new ISBN number. I know $295 seems like a lot of money, but in my opinion, it is worth it. Plus Bowker does occasionaly offer discounts and some writer organizations offer coupon codes. So my advice, do it right, buy your own ISBNs