• Raven Featherwood

ISBN's - Do I Really Need My Own?

One of the items that I had to consider when I decided that being an Indie Author was for me, was whether to purchase ISBN numbers. First we need to understand what an ISBN is.

An ISBN, or an International Standard Book Number, is a unique number that is recognized well, Internationally. The identifier is unique to not only your title, but also your books platform.

In other words, a paperback has its own identifier that will identify and track that particular format of the book and not the hardback. Each platform that you publish your book on will identify that book.

Many people will tell you that eBooks do not need to have an ISBN number, and for Amazon that is correct. However, if you plan to sell your eBook on Nook and other readers you should still have an ISBN as the sales will all link together and help you to establish best seller status.

What does an ISBN do for your sales?

An ISBN allows you to identify the publisher with an imprint that can point to yourself or your own publishing company, rather than the default publisher that certain publishing platforms use.

LuLu for example has unique identifiers that they provide which will identify that the book was self-published.

Amazon has its own number, an ASN which stands for Amazon Standard Number.

Your book will appear as an Amazon Published book rather than a book that is published through a traditional publisher.

Some booksellers, see an ASN number vs a publisher driven ISBN as substandard.

It is difficult in many cases to get self-published books in the brick and mortar bookstores. Having an identifier that has a publisher as the imprint rather than Amazon or another ready made ISBN can help you get your books in libraries and bookstores.

The imprint lets your books be found easily.

What that means is that Raven Featherwood Publications may in the future have twenty or more books we've published and someone could look up our books by our name, as the publisher. But, if we are only listed by ASN number or an identifier that imprints another publisher, it removes our ability to be unique to our published items.

Having the ability to track your own published works is a tremendous advantage. As a self-published author you are in fact a publishing house of your own. Allowing another publisher to take the credit for your published works is kind of like sharing your by-line.

Are there disadvantages to buying ISBN's yourself?

COST - that is the real disadvantage. A single ISBN is $125, whereas when you publish at KDP there is no cost.

However, you can purchase a block of ISBN's for a much better price. I purchased my first block of ten numbers for $295.

I plan to publish my paperback and eBook on KDP first, and later the same on Lightening Source for their expanded distribution. I will do a paperback, eBook, and hardback on that platform, then later an audiobook on Audible. That means for my purposes each book I publish will have four ISBN's.

If I use the Amazon number for the KDP, then my own for Lightning Source, I will have no correlation between the paperback on Amazon and the paperback at Lightning Source.

This can reduce the chance of getting best seller status since each book will be counted alone, even though it is the same book, same version.

My conclusion is that I will always provide my own identifiers for my books.

What do you think? Let me know your feelings or experiences with this topic.


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