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  1. Randi Everheart
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    Randi Everheart Banned

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    The ISBN Question

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Randi Everheart, Nov 2, 2014.

    Hi All,

    I'm gearing up to publish my first book and see that places like CreateSpace offer a free ISBN. Some people recommend buying your own instead, but I'm dubious that there is any tangible benefit, so I'm wondering if those here, who've already published, can share what choice they made, why, and how that has worked out for them. Have you ever switched from free to buying your own and back, for example? Why and did it help you?

    My impression is that it boils down to wanting to have your publisher name instead of say, CreateSpace, associated with the book, but this seems like an expense for something that doesn't help your career in any way, does it? Or am I wrong?

    Thanks! Randi
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    We had this discussion elsewhere which is all I know about it, but apparently when you get it from a publisher or publishing platform, they own it. When you buy it you own it, which might matter later if you choose to change publishers.

    But someone who understands the issue better than I should come along soon and give a better description of the difference.

    Welcome to the forum. :)
     
  3. Randi Everheart
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    Yeah I read a couple posts here but they didn't quite answer the specific questions, though I think you're right: i.e., no substantive difference.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I did not say no substantive difference.

    From CreateSpace
     
  5. Randi Everheart
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    Yes that was my interpretation of your answer, as the difference you mentioned is one that has "no substantive" effect on the questions I had asked. I.e., how you get the ISBN and what name is associated with that doesn't sell more books, doesn't raise awareness of books, doesn't have any effect that I can see, which is why I am asking if there's something I don't know about those things. I also don't see why someone might do it one way and then change their mind, which is the scenario that leads to your answer.

    Thanks.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    The polite thing to do when you don't get the answer you want is to consider how you worded the question and simply clarify what you were asking. Telling someone who went to the trouble to answer you that their answer was useless to you is not so polite.

    Moving on...

    Let me give you one example then. One of my friends got a publishing deal with a small publishing house. After the first book in a trilogy came out she became frustrated with their sluggish response to getting the second book out and that she had to buy 50 copies of print books at once and the print books threatened to not arrive in time for the local event she planned to have a signing booth at.

    Having to get another ISBN meant that someone searching for the book by ISBN might think the book was no longer in print if they looked for one of the two numbers.

    Is that a remote possibility? Sure, for some of us that don't expect to ever change publishers. On the other hand, what's $100 in the scheme of things? That's the cost of one concert ticket or dinner out for 3-4 people.

    If you don't have confidence that your book or you as a writer won't be moving on from self publishing to a publisher, then meh, get the free one. But if you are serious about your work, it's worth $100 to keep the same ISBN if you should choose to change publishers.
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    I don't know how much difference this makes to you but the association of independent booksellers has an agreement not to sell books published by Amazon. So if your isbn shows its Amazon published you might have trouble getting your local Indy store to sell it.

    Just one wrinkle to consider.
     
  8. Devlin Blake
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    Is that legal? That sounds like price fixing to me. Although as I understand it, Amazon ISBNs can't be read by retail scanners. (The two technologies aren't compatible.)

    The thing about ISBNs is people are still determining their value in this new world.

    Bowker's own TOS says you're supposed to have a new ISBN for EACH version of your book, (lulu, smashwords, Ibookstore, ect.) So one book could have 10 ISBNs, and personally, I'm not sure I see the point of that. You'd burn through a 10 pack in no time that way. (You should be publishing on as many sites as possible.)
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    You might be able to argue a restraint of trade, but the reality is that they don't have the market power to fix prices, either artificially high or low.

    I don't know about the retail scanner issue, but I don't think it 's a technology issue. ISBNs are just a number, and the UPC code scanning technology has been around for quite some time. You can even use your phone to scan them.

    I know that it's cheaper to buy more ISBNs at one time -- you can get them individually, or in groups of 25 or, I think 100. They're much cheaper the more you buy.
     
  10. swhibs123
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    Just a couple points: Bowker sells ISBNs in the USA. If you're not from the USA, don't buy ISBNs from Bowker! Prices range HUGELY from one country to the next: i.e. Belgium, Canada... and others provide ISBNs for free. In the UK I think they're $20 a pop... etc etc.

    Next, many booksellers don't want to stock "createspace" books. Sometimes it's b/c of the hatred of Aamazon an their domination of the bookselling market, but others don't b/c POD is an inferior product, and "createpace" is a POD company.

    Also, in terms of meta-data, having one ISBN for all vendors makes your book easier to find.

    So does having an ISBN in your name help sell books? Yes, if you're selling them anywhere other than Amazon. Yes, if you're seeking bookstores or libraries as sales options, and yes if discoverablity is an issue you consider for producing sales.
     
  11. Edward M. Grant
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    Someone said their local book store couldn't order their books when they had a free Createspace ISBN, but would after they changed it to their own ISBN (not sure if they bought one themselves, or bought a Createspace one). That's the only reason I know of to not use the free ones; some stores may see Createspace listed as publisher and refuse to order it.
     

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