Get Your ISBN from RR Bowker

Thanks to the fast fingers of someone from one of the forums I frequent I visited a site that resells ISBNs.  As with anyone with an inkling of scrutiny in them I had a few questions.  Here’s our back and forth correspondence:

GR:  I need one ISBN. It’s for an ebook. How do you deliver it to me and how do I assign it to my book?

XX:  Hi Gerald,

Thanks for your email. When you place your order through Paypal, I immediately send the isbn bar code to you by email. Then you can use the isbn number to get your book on Amazon, BN, or any other website, online distributor, etc.

Since the ISBN is already registered to my company, it can’t be “registered” to your ebook. (which is redundant since you are registering your own company / author information to the ebook with every online seller – for example, on Amazon, BN, etc, you will enter your own contact information, not mine).

My point is to help publishers to get isbns they need to publish their books/e-books at a reduced price. If it doesn’t end up working out for you, email me and I’ll refund your money right away.

Thanks and best of luck with your ebook!

GR:  But if someone searches by the ISBN what information will they see?

XX:  Just out of curiosity, have you ever personally searched for a title by ISBN…? Or do you know of anyone who does this?

Personally, I search for titles by title/author. I don’t think most people search for books by ISBN.

Also, Bowker actually charges a lot of money to do a search by ISBN. I think it costs about $1,000 to get a subscription so that someone can do a search by ISBN. So based on my experience most of your customers will probably not be doing that.

If I’m wrong about this, please let me know because I’ve simply never heard of anyone searching for a book by ISBN. Thanks.

GR:  I get what you mean. If I bought it from you it would show under my book anyway. But retailers search by ISBN. Won’t they see? And what do you give me as assurance you won’t sell mine to someone else?

XX:  I’m not selling the same number to anyone else because that wouldn’t be good for my business. I’m trying to help people by giving them a low-cost way to publish their book or ebook. You’re welcome to try my service anytime you are ready. Thanks.

Think he sounded a little short in that last message?  I do.  Even if I did go through an ISBN reseller, I wouldn’t use this guy in particular.  He chose to be sensitive when that was when he should have put on his best salesman’s shoes.  Hey, I have reservations, obviously.  Why not go the extra mile to reassure me?

But, I was on Bowker’s website and I found this:

As the U.S. ISBN Agency, R R Bowker is the exclusive US source of publisher prefixes and accompanying ranges of ISBN numbers for eligible publishers. Bowker provides information and advice on the uses of the ISBN System to publishers and the book trade, and promotes the use of the Bookland EAN bar code format. In addition to their ISBN prefixes, publishers also register their titles with Bowker for inclusion in the Books In Print databases.

Please be aware that there are unauthorized resellers of ISBNs, and that this activity is a violation of the ISBN standard and of industry practice.

It goes on:

If you use one of these reassigned ISBNs, you will not be correctly identified as the publisher of record in Books in Print or many of the book industry databases. The result may be extensive costs to apply for a new ISBN and the application of stickers to books already printed and in circulation.

If you are a new publisher, you should apply for your own ISBN publisher prefix from the US ISBN Agency. Assigning ISBNs from your own ISBN publisher prefix will identify you as the publisher of your titles, and link your contact information to the specific publisher identifier. This will ultimately aid in circulating your books properly in the industry supply chain.

Needless to say, I don’t want anyone else’s name to show up under my ISBN.  I’m trying to start something here and that seems contrary to what I’m working for.  I have other things I’m planning to write, maybe I’ll just buy 10 of them and go on from there.


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