Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ISBNs, Ebooks, and Bowker--what you need to know!

Andy, a lot of new self-publishers, coming into this side of the business for the first time, are surprised at the cost of ISBNs for their books. It’s been pointed out that the spread between the high price—1 ISBN for $125—and the low price—$1.00 each in quantities of 5,000—is remarkably big. Can you explain for my readers exactly what it is they are buying when they receive that 13-digit number, and why it costs so much?

First, I want to clarify the options and pricing structure for ISBN numbers which changed at the beginning of the year, reflecting up to a 50% price reduction for most units compared to previous years.
  • Single ISBNs costs $125.00
  • A 10-block of ISBNs costs $250.00 ($25.00 per unit)
  • A 100-block of ISBNs costs $575.00 ($5.75 per unit)
  • A 1,000 block of ISBNs costs $1,000.00 ($1.00 per unit)
  • Larger blocks (10K, 100K) are available as part of a more detailed inventory review.
All of the above options include:
  • Assignment of the numbers to the publisher and instant access to manage them at www.myidentifiers.com
  • Publisher and ISBN registration in the Publisher Authority Database which supports the International ISBN Agency Publishers International Information Database
  • Free access to MyIdentifiers.com to create and manage bibliographic meta-data records for each ISBN which are quality checked and incorporated in Bowker’s Books in Print database
    This database is a collection development and database of record for thousands of major and independent retailers (including Barnes & Noble and Borders), thousands of libraries and several major search engines, social networks and mobile channels.
  • All ISBNs and core components of meta-data records are now incorporated in Bookwire (www.bookwire.com) as “Title Cards” which are web pages and part of a search-optimized title discovery index.
All of the above services are provided for a one-time fee at purchase. The ISBN ensures that publishers and their titles can be discovered and play a pivotal role in cataloging, discoverability and trading as part of catalogues, point-of-sale systems, etc. and ensure that a title and/or a format of a particular title are unambigously identified no matter where it is found. An appropriate analogy would be domain names which are purchased and renewed annually for additional fees, except ISBNs never need to be “renewed” for any cost. Similarly to domains, ISBNs purchased on volume basis carry discounts as volumes increase.
Another issue that’s very confusing for self-publishers and small independent publishers is the use of ISBN with ebooks. With as many as 9 or more formats available, people are unsure how to assign ISBN and whether every single format requires it’s own ISBN which, for some, is a pretty big expense. What does Bowker recommend?
Bowker shares the view of the International ISBN Agency; e-book formats should be assigned separate ISBNs, especially where trading models involve multiple partners. There will, however, be instances of compressed supply chains where an e-book in a particular format is available exclusively through a single channel (e.g. Kindle). In those circumstances there is no requirement for an ISBN, unless the publisher needs it for control purposes. (A simple guiding principle is that a product needs a separate identifier if the supply chain needs to identify it separately). The assignment of separate ISBNs to each format ensures that the e-book ordered is the correct one for the user‟ e-reader device and/or software platform, it facilitates electronic trading of e-books, particularly where multiple formats are sold through the same channel. For example, without unique product identification, a retailer or library wishing to order specific formats would have to add various additional metadata fields that would require extra processing by each link in the supply chain, it enables product level reporting of sales and usage and facilitates management of e-book products by publishers, and provides a well-proven global system that is simple to use and involves no new integration work to fit into existing systems. This position paper might also be helpful as a point of reference: ISBN E-Book Paper, Feburary 2010http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/05/bowkers-andy-weissberg-on-isbns-and-the-future-of-the-book/

No comments:

Post a Comment