ISBN – It Sure Beats Neglect

Are you contemplating self-publishing? ( If you aren’t, as my photographer/ lecturer colleague André Elhay would say, ‘Feel for a pulse!’)  But if you’re still ticking all the boxes, it’s a safe bet that you’re also puzzling about the pros and cons of ordering an ISBN — an International Standard Book Number. In that case you’ll be as delighted as I was to discover Joel Friedlander’s site – The Book Designer.  It’s full of practical information about the ISBN that still makes sense to me long after brain closing time. I especially like the way Friedlander patiently and encouragingly answers the same question again and again for people who have clearly not read through all the Q & As.

The Book Designer deals specifically with USA scene for the ISBNs, which seem to be much dearer there and elsewhere than in Australia.  For that, we have to thank the generosity of Thorpe-Bowker, the Australian guardian of the ISBN, which acquired our ISBN system back in 1997. Increasing options for the digital reading and downloading of electronic books are changing the requirements for registration. For optimum recognition and sales, it may be that a serious self-publisher would find it more cost-effective to buy a pack of 10 ISBNs rather than just a couple for print and .pdf.  Keep updated with the Australian situation here:

For quite a while now, Joel Friedlander and his knowledgeable contributors have been answering a torrent of generic queries about the ISBN. Just because a post was written and answered a couple of years ago in the US doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. If you’ve ever felt frustrated by registration forms that read like cryptic crossword clues – until you discover a friend like The Book Designer – I hope you’ll enjoy the humour in this post that had me laughing loud and long:

Adam December 27, 2011 at 2:42 pm Quick question regarding ISBN and self-publishing: Having purchased a block of 10 ISBN numbers, I decided to burn one as a test, just to get the hang of how it works. After dealing with that ridiculous website for hours – the first hour was wasted because apparently the Bowker or ISBN website only works with Internet Explorer? – I was finally able to get through. My question is, as a self-publishing author, who/what do I put down as my publisher? It is a required box (has an asterisk, must be filled), but as I do not have a publisher I did not know what to put. Ironically, I filled it with something along the lines of “I don’t have a publisher but there is an asterisk”, just so I could continue and finish the process. Now I get mail about once every two weeks addressed to me, and the address looks something like:


My Address My City, State, Zip Code

Irrelevant of course, but it was hilarious to get different pieces of mail from Bowker and other sources addressed to myself as such.

You’ll find Joel’s answer to Adam here:


About quillpoweronline

I'm an editor at Quillpower PR Publishing. Specialising in 'things that are lovely and of good report'. I work with writers to gently brush away irrelevancies to reveal the buried treasure, or chisel meaning from a block of text. As an accredited editor (Inst. Prof. Editors Ltd) with experience in advertising, public relations, news and feature writing and editing for all media I help communicators put a professional shine on their message. But here on the blog, it's after hours, and I may do an elongated tweet every now and then, point up an absurdity, or simply post one of my ancient scribbles before it and I crumble into dust. BTW, WordPress chooses the ads (if any) on my blog. Quid pro quo.
This entry was posted in Editor's Cut and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s