E-book ISBNs: BISG releases crazy recommendations

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Doug Pardee
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E-book ISBNs: BISG releases crazy recommendations

Post by Doug Pardee » December 9th, 2011, 4:47 pm

The Book Industry Study Group has just released recommendations for ISBN assignment to e-books (PDF). And I have to wonder how much eggnog they drank while coming up with these.

According to BISG:
  • If you release your e-book in both Amazon and EPUB formats, you need two separate ISBNs.
  • If your EPUB is available DRM-free, with Adobe DRM, with B&N DRM, and with Apple DRM, those can share the same ISBN.
  • Except that if the Adobe DRM allows limited printing in one case but not in another, those require separate ISBNs.
  • In contrast, if the Adobe DRM gives a time limit (library loan, ARC, etc.) that can use the same ISBN as an unlimited version.
  • Implied: if you correct a typo and re-release, you need all-new ISBNs.
Dear BISG: you might have heard of a bookstore called Amazon. They don't see any point in having ISBNs on e-books at all and totally ignore ISBNs on e-books. Another bookstore you might have heard of, Barnes & Noble, will use the ISBN on an e-book if it has one, but doesn't mind if the e-book doesn't have one. E-books aren't printed books. There's no need to order them from a warehouse.

The BISG press release quotes Hachette's Phil Madans, who chaired the group: "some even reported thinking ISBN assignment should be optional--a 'nice to have'. This, clearly, would not work." Um, clearly it is working.

Pardon my cynicism, Big Publishing, when you come up with a recommendation that is of trivial consequence for publishers who buy ISBNs in blocks of 10,000 but is a significant financial burden to the self-publishing author. I'm reminded of Anatole France's observation, "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges..."

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Mira
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Re: E-book ISBNs: BISG releases crazy recommendations

Post by Mira » December 9th, 2011, 5:06 pm

Interesting again! I agree with your analysis, Doug.

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Ryan
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Re: E-book ISBNs: BISG releases crazy recommendations

Post by Ryan » December 9th, 2011, 8:33 pm

I have mixed feelings about how much we as Indies should adhere to some standards. As a remodel contractor ($$ Job!), I pay a certain amount to be licensed and insured this way I'm legit and can pitch myself as a professional. When unlicensed guys underbid me it sort of irks me.

I think there needs to be some hoops to jump through when someone decides to self publish. If it's too easy then that's when quality and standards drop. We all want respect. We don't want someone to say, "Oh...you just self-published...." One of the reasons people have that attitude is because it's so easy. I could write a 100 page rant, upload, and have my 2nd title out tomorrow if I wanted. That kind of ease is good and bad.

Having to invest a little time and money to release a book will only help us maintain some type of standard.
If the price of an ISBN was $200 or more then I'd consider it "keeping the little guy down" but a ten pack of ISBNs is $250. $25 a title.
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
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Skellie
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Re: E-book ISBNs: BISG releases crazy recommendations

Post by Skellie » December 11th, 2011, 5:41 am

Hey Ryan - I must admit, I disagree. Forcing self-published authors to trample through pointless bureaucracy is not going to raise the standard of self-published books. I agree that there are some poor quality books out there, but I don't think oppressive rules around ISBN numbers will solve that problem.
Passive Income Author - helping you earn a full-time income as a self-published author.

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Ryan
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Re: E-book ISBNs: BISG releases crazy recommendations

Post by Ryan » December 11th, 2011, 11:29 am

Skellie,

I don't totally agree with what I wrote either because I HATE unneeded BS. But since I'm already in deep, I want everyone else to suffer too. :) I used up five of my ISBNs on my one title! Paperback, hardcover (some people still like these things), Kindle, E-pub, and the soon to be released Multimedia Enhanced Edition.

One thing my e-book designer told me is that having different ISBNs will protect you from Amazon's auto-pricing horrors. If you have a different ISBN on an E-Pub that you want to price lower than the MOBI (Kindle) then they can't lower the price on you. My pricing is the same for all the e-versions so I can't confirm this but it seems to make sense from a legal standpoint.
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
http://www.withoutrain.com/

Doug Pardee
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Re: E-book ISBNs: BISG releases crazy recommendations

Post by Doug Pardee » December 12th, 2011, 11:44 am

Ryan wrote:One thing my e-book designer told me is that having different ISBNs will protect you from Amazon's auto-pricing horrors. If you have a different ISBN on an E-Pub that you want to price lower than the MOBI (Kindle) then they can't lower the price on you.
I don't know this for a fact, but I think that's incorrect. Amazon doesn't use ISBNs on e-books, so they don't have anything to compare against. Also, their auto-pricing has been known to erroneously affect a Kindle book based on a different e-book elsewhere, so I don't think auto-pricing is using ISBNs.

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Mira
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Re: E-book ISBNs: BISG releases crazy recommendations

Post by Mira » December 12th, 2011, 5:18 pm

Ryan wrote:Having to invest a little time and money to release a book will only help us maintain some type of standard.
If the price of an ISBN was $200 or more then I'd consider it "keeping the little guy down" but a ten pack of ISBNs is $250. $25 a title.
Sorry, Ryan, but I have to disagree with this too. I understand people's concerns about the standards of self-publishing, but I think having to invest time and money means that people who have time and money will publish. That doesn't necessarily mean they are the better writers.

Not everyone has $250, and in some ways, that's one of the wonderful things about self-publishing. All people, of any class, can do it, no one is hopefully blocked due to circumstances.

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