A bit more about ISBN numbers

I should like to say a bit more about ISBN numbers, though let us be clear that a book can be published without an ISBN, which stands for International Standard Book Number.

However, if you are aiming to publish and want people to find your books, I strongly recommend buying your own ISBNs and allocating them to your book(s). An ISBN is a cataloguing tool that many libraries and public search facilities insist on. Once allocated to a book, an ISBN lasts a lifetime, ensuring that a book need never get lost.

I think the best way to elucidate on the workings of ISBNs (they are not complicated, but the way they work together can be) is to take examples from my own publishing choices. So, briefly, I publish on Amazon, to their internal market only (that is, within the Amazon group of companies only).

I also publish with IngramSpark, which gives me a UK base for sourcing copies of my books at affordable prices. I find that if I rely solely on sourcing books through Amazon alone, they may come from the US, in which case the costs of postage are prohibitive and the waiting times are frustrating.

The key to making this work, is to have no overlaps in the markets among your different distributors. So therefore, I publish on the Amazon internal market only – I avoid their extended distribution option – and publish with Ingram Spark, with the result that IngramSpark are my source for all copies outwith the Amazon network. No overlaps.

In this scheme, I use two ISBNs – which we can purchase singly, or in batches of ten – and allocate the numbers as follows:-

First ISBN – is for the paperback POD on both Amazon and on Ingram Spark.

Second ISBN – is for the e-book available outside the Amazon network though Ingram Spark.

To be clear, Amazon, always allocates a unique ASIN number to all e-books they publish in their kindle format on their platforms. There is no other option for Amazon e-books. But Amazon does allow publishers to use their own ISBNs for their print on demand paperbacks. Which is the same ISBN used for POD books on all other platforms, in my case, Ingram Spark.

I can run Ingram Spark and Amazon alongside each other because I opt for restricted distribution of Amazon products to the Amazon group of companies only, where the other distributors have no remit to venture. For sales outwith Amazon, Ingram Spark is my preferred distributor.

My next post will be my last before the long vacation, when I shall be taking time off to be with family. Thanks so much for reading, commenting and sharing.

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