ISBN's

I get a lot of questions about ISBN's so this is what I know, based on the questions I get.

ISBNs are purchased from
Bowker Identifier Services http://www.myidentifiers.com as either a single ISBN or in bulk. The ISBN is then owned by the publisher/person who purchased it and it cannot be transferred to someone else.

The owner assigns an ISBN to one title in one format only. If your book was previously published by someone else, you cannot reuse the ISBN as it is not yours to use. If you change the title to your book, you cannot reuse the ISBN as the ISBN has been assigned to a specific title. If you assign an ISBN to an e-book, you cannot use the same ISBN for the print version as they are different formats. You can, however, use the same ISBN for different e-book formats (i.e., mobi & epub).

Independent distributors/publishers, e.g. Smashwords and Createspace (Amazon), offer their own ISBN at no additional cost if you publish with them. This will list them as the publisher on record. You do not have to use their ISBN, but if you do, you cannot then use that ISBN and upload that same book to a vendor on your own, since you are not the publisher on record for that ISBN.

While all print books need an ISBN, not all ebooks do. That depends on the vendor. Amazon and Barnes and Noble do not require ISBNs. Apple does.

ISBNs for print books can cause a lot of confusion. If you are the publisher on record for your ISBN, you can basically upload that book to most vendors/distributors. Two scenarios cause issues with the above statement.
1. An exception to this is Barnes and Noble will not accept an ISBN that is being used on any other print platform (createspace or ingramspart or smashwords, etc).
2. A problem comes in if you use Createspace (and possibly KDP) for extended distribution. Createspace Extended Distribution uses Ingram Sparks as their distributor. If you later want to use Ingram Sparks as your distributor (because you want your book available to libraries or independent bookstores), you must stop the extended distribution at Createspace or Ingram Sparks will reject your ISBN as they already have it in their system. It is unclear how much time you must wait before you can use the ISBN at Ingram Sparks, so it's best to decide upfront how you wish to distribute your print books.

Just remember, Ingram Sparks charges to distribute your print on demand book and they charge for each change you make, whereas Createspace is free.

Some authors want their print on demand books to be cheaper on Amazon than anywhere else. They've been known to use Createspace and the free ISBN and have it only list with Amazon. Then they would distribute the same book with a different ISBN (one they owned) through Ingram Sparks (or even Createspace Extended Distribution) with a higher list price. The reason behind this is that Createspace takes a bigger chunk of the profits for extended distribution, which forces you to have a higher list price, than they do for books only sold on Amazon. Is this legal? Sure. Ethical? That's up for debate. If you were to do this, just realize the book will show up twice on Amazon with two different prices.

ISBN's

     I get a lot of questions about ISBN's so this is what I know, based on the questions I get.

     ISBNs are purchased from
Bowker Identifier Services http://www.myidentifiers.com as either a single ISBN or in bulk. The ISBN is then owned by the publisher/person who purchased it and it cannot be transferred to someone else.

     The owner assigns an ISBN to one title in one format only. If your book was previously published by someone else, you cannot reuse the ISBN as it is not yours to use. If you change the title to your book, you cannot reuse the ISBN as the ISBN has been assigned to a specific title. If you assign an ISBN to an e-book, you cannot use the same ISBN for the print version as they are different formats. You can, however, use the same ISBN for different e-book formats (i.e., mobi & epub).

     Independent distributors/publishers, e.g. Smashwords and Createspace (Amazon), offer their own ISBN at no additional cost if you publish with them. This will list them as the publisher on record. You do not have to use their ISBN, but if you do, you cannot then use that ISBN and upload that same book to a vendor on your own, since you are not the publisher on record for that ISBN.

     While all print books need an ISBN, not all ebooks do. That depends on the vendor. Amazon and Barnes and Noble do not require ISBNs. Apple does.

     ISBNs for print books can cause a lot of confusion. If you are the publisher on record for your ISBN, you can basically upload that book to most vendors/distributors. Two scenarios cause issues with the above statement.
1. An exception to this is Barnes and Noble will not accept an ISBN that is being used on any other print platform (createspace or ingramspart or smashwords, etc).
2. A problem comes in if you use Createspace (and possibly KDP) for extended distribution. Createspace Extended Distribution uses Ingram Sparks as their distributor. If you later want to use Ingram Sparks as your distributor (because you want your book available to libraries or independent bookstores), you must stop the extended distribution at Createspace or Ingram Sparks will reject your ISBN as they already have it in their system. It is unclear how much time you must wait before you can use the ISBN at Ingram Sparks, so it's best to decide upfront how you wish to distribute your print books.

     Just remember, Ingram Sparks charges to distribute your print on demand book and they charge for each change you make, whereas Createspace is free.

     Some authors want their print on demand books to be cheaper on Amazon than anywhere else. They've been known to use Createspace and the free ISBN and have it only list with Amazon. Then they would distribute the same book with a different ISBN (one they owned) through Ingram Sparks (or even Createspace Extended Distribution) with a higher list price. The reason behind this is that Createspace takes a bigger chunk of the profits for extended distribution, which forces you to have a higher list price, than they do for books only sold on Amazon. Is this legal? Sure. Ethical? That's up for debate. If you were to do this, just realize the book will show up twice on Amazon with two different prices.