What is an ISBN? - article

When it comes time to publish your written work there is a technical concern you cannot ignore. It is your book’s ISBN.

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. An ISBN provides a unique numerical identifier for each edition of a published book. One ISBN is assigned to the paperback edition of your book, while a different one will be assigned to the hardback edition. Yet another one will be assigned to the eBook edition.

The life of an ISBN begins in the early planning and production stages and proceeds all the way through a book’s publication and promotion.

The ISBN system is recognized in over 170 countries throughout the world and it will play a big part in your sales and distribution. First, it is a unique number that can be tracked for sales analysis and rights management. It can also be used to organize bibliographic data storage and library information management.

ISBN's are used for a broad range of publications and media. They are not just for printed media, but are also used to identify audio books on both CD and DVD, as well as other electronic media. For example, computer software that is used for educational purposes and publications that have components which are text-based will need ISBN’s.

Products that don’t use the ISBN system include ongoing and unfinished work, like newspapers and periodicals. Other products that don't require ISBNs include personal resumes, advertising leaflets, printed music, art prints without text, and emails.

ISBN's can be purchased on your own, but the biggest catch is that they need to be bought in blocks of 10, 100 or 1,000. The total cost will range from $275 for 10 ISBN's to $1,875 for a block of 1,000 ISBN's.

There are also two fees involved. The first is a registration fee. The registration fee serves to allocate a publisher prefix to you, along with a block of numbers, one for each publication.

The second is a processing fee. The processing fee covers the processing of your application. The cost depends on how quickly you need your application processed.

In the United State you must buy your ISBN's from R. R. Bowker. Bowker can also help you to produce your bar codes. Bar codes are something that you need to create as a self publisher, especially if you ever intend to sell your book in stores.

Another option is to consider working with a publishing services provider, such as iUniverse or AuthorHouse, or a self publishing website like LuLu. These organizations exist to help new self-publishing authors and some of them may offer you a free ISBN in addition to the option of buying one through them. They make dealing with ISBN's part of their service. One note – whoever buys the ISBN is the publisher of record. So if you truly want to self publish and want to create your own publishing imprint, you’ll need to purchase the ISBNs yourself. If that’s not important to you, the publishing service providers can be a great resource for many things, including securing an ISBN for your book.

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