Today I made the financial commitment to a decision I've been weighing for awhile ... I bought my own ISBNs. Perhaps some of you might like a bit of explanation ...
However, if you want total control over how and where your book is sold, and if you want to be in control of your book's metadata (the critical information about price, title, author, publisher, format, and other details of your book that retailers and purchasers depend on to be able to find your book in the marketplace), then you really have to have your own ISBN. Since my day gig is working as a managing editor for an academic publishing house, I know the importance of maintaining control over your metadata. One of the catchphrases in the digital publishing world is, "Metadata is king." Although, I guess the grammatically correct form would be "Metadata are king." But I digress.
Of course, as you may have suspected, ISBNs--unlike the internally assigned identifiers provided by Amazon and Lulu--aren't free. There's only one place you can get them: from Bowker, Inc., the company that maintains the ISBN registry for the United States. A single ISBN is $100. However, since I plan to issue several of my older titles as e-books, I decided to buy a block of 10 ISBNs from Bowker for $250 (do you get the feeling that they discourage one-off purchases?). I'll say this for them, though: for a monopoly, they maintain a pretty user-friendly website. I got in, registered, paid, and had my block of ten ISBNs in less than ten minutes, start to finish. You can check them out for yourself at https://www.myidentifiers.com/Get-your-isbn-now.
So, bottom line ... the $250 I just parted ways with could be seen as a setback for my original low/no-cost objective for this self-publishing project. On the other hand, it could be viewed as a strategic concession to the greater objectives of maintaining more control over my book's metadata and having increased flexibility to market it on multiple platforms, thus increasing its visibility--the current buzzword is "discoverability"--in the marketplace.
But to make the type of professional impression with my book that I hope to make, I've got to tackle cover design and layout ... about which more in future posts ...
Thomsblog (a weblog) by Thom Lemmons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License
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