Everything You Need To Know About ISBN Numbers
Everything You Need To Know About ISBN Numbers
By Nick James
What They Are, How To Get One And How They Can Help Your Book Succeed!
So first of all, what on earth is an ISBN? An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. An ISBN is basically a product number that is used by publishers, booksellers and libraries for ordering, listing and stock control purposes. It allows them to identify a specific book – your book – from amongst the millions that are in circulation at any one time.
If you are a publisher… and you are a publisher if you are planning to publish just one book… then you are entitled to take advantage (yes, take advantage) of the ISBN system. That is, as long as whatever you are publishing can be described as a book, manual or report that is going to be sold to the public. (Regular publications like magazines and newsletters don’t have ISBNs, they have ISSNs.)
Strictly, there is no legal requirement (in the UK or Republic of Ireland at least) to have an ISBN at all. It is an optional system. And the ISBN system isn’t an official register of books as such. But there are lots of good reasons for getting an ISBN for your book, even if you envisage it’s only going to be a fairly small project initially.
So how can having an ISBN boost sales of your book? Well, if you want to sell your publication through bookshops like WH Smith or Waterstones or whatever, or Internet booksellers like Amazon, they will need you to have an ISBN so your book can be handled by their internal processing and ordering systems. The ISBN also provides access to book databases, such as BookFind Online, which are organised using ISBNs. These databases are used by booksellers and libraries to help them find books for their customers. So, let’s say you’ve published a great book on using and choosing e-commerce shopping cart systems and a customer walks in and asks for a book on shopping cart systems. There’s every chance your book will be located and ordered. It could mean hundreds or thousands of extra sales just for the slight effort of getting an ISBN!
Why not try it and see how clever it is? Go to any online bookshop, such as Amazon.co.uk and tap this number into the search box – 978-0-9554865-0-0. Hey presto! You should be presented with the sales page for my very own book Live BIG. Think LARGE. Act SENSIBLY. In the very same way, people around the world could be ordering your book too!
So how do you get an ISBN? ISBNs are allocated to publishers in the country where the publisher is based. This is regardless of the language of the publication or the intended market for the book – so you can still sell your book worldwide with a UK-allocated number. The ISBN Agency is the national agency for the UK and Republic of Ireland. You can download an application form from their website.
Here are the contact details you need:
ISBN Agency, 3rd Floor, Midas House, 62 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey GU21 6LQ Tel. 0870 777 8712 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.isbn.nielsenbook.co.uk/controller.php?page=123
A few technical details you need to know: It takes about 10 working days to get an ISBN. Ideally you need the number well before publishing starts and should have decided the title, price and format first (although it is possible to change it later). So plan in advance. And, getting an ISBN isn’t free unfortunately. At the moment is costs £98.70 for a batch of 10 numbers. This is the minimum order. Actually it’s not that expensive – just a handful of extra orders will more than cover the cost. Also, before 2007 the ISBN was a 10 digit number. But to make more capacity in the system it has now changed to a 13 digit number, like this: 978-0-9554865-0-0. (If you want to know what all the different numbers mean, the ISBN Agency website has details.)
One last important thing. Look at any book and, like most products today, you will find that it has (or should have) a barcode printed on it. This makes it easier to handle throughout the distribution process and to sell. With books, the barcode displays the ISBN number. You will need a barcode on your book as most booksellers will not be able to sell it for you if you don’t. But the ISBN Agency does not provide you with a barcode when they send you your ISBN numbers. So, you will need to get a barcode film supplier to make up the very accurate barcode artwork that your printer needs to print the barcode on your book. There are a few different companies who can do this for you. One to take a look at is Axicon at axicon.co.uk Tel. 0800 834 937.
If you use a POD publisher they will probably be able to obtain the ISBN numbers and barcode artwork for you. But, very importantly, check that the ISBN numbers will be registered in your name not theirs.
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Nick James is a UK based direct marketer and product developer. During the last 3 years Nick has sold in excess of £1 Million of products and services. Subscribe to his Free Tip Of The Week email at: http://www.InternetMarketingTrainingClub.com