Q&A About Self-Publishing and the ISBN Number

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having the “need” to ask questions!  Unfortunately, many times we don’t know what we don’t know and thus – don’t know what to ask.  The following questions may have entered your mind and you are serious about securing the answer; alternatively – they may be something of which you have no awareness and the questions will guide you to important knowledge:

I  Where does a self-publisher go to secure that all important ISBN to identify I am the publisher of my book?

Each country is designated one specific agency to assign ISBNs for that country.  It is responsible for maintaining  a bibliographic database of all titles published within that country. The United States and all territories is under the designation of R.R. Bowker, as the official ISBN agency. R.R. Bowker also manages Books in Print which is the premier database for the entire publishing industry.

Obviously,  the publishing industry is extensive, requiring that R.R. Bowker enter into agreements with a number of reliable companies to submit official applications on behalf of the authors with whom they work. Under the guidance of Bowker, these companies are given the authority to provide privileges under which ISBNs can ultimately be assigned by the US ISBN Agency.  Since these companies can also offer other programs and services that do not include an ISBN, make sure to read all terms and conditions carefully before making any important decisions.

II  What is the significance of the ISBN; why does it matter?

The underlying value/purpose of the ISBN is to identify not only your book, but also the publisher who will be managing purchase orders. If your ISBN is purchased from a company other than R.R. Bowker or through the special programs of the companies listed here, you will not be identified as the publisher of your work. The significance lies in the implications for your business within the publishing industry, and the privileges that comes with owning your ISBN.

III  What companies actually have the authority to submit ISBN applications to the US ISBN Agency?

Of the companies listed below, although not shedding a negative light on any particular one(s), my preference and suggestion is to work with RJ Communications.

However, in educating you to the need to perform due diligence, I would suggest you spend some time researching a handful of the companies listed so that you can see the difference in services provided and at what costs.

  • Aardvark Global Publishing Company
  • Bethany Press
  • Espressio
  • FilmMasters
  • Instantpublisher.com
  • Lulu.com
  • PPC Books
  • Publisher Services
  • RJ Communications
  • RKD Press
  • Signature Books
  • WordClay

I trust this Q & A has either clarified questions you, too, may have regarding the all important ISBN number… or, alternatively, have planted a seed of interest and curiosity in your mind!

Happy writing… publishing… marketing and sales of your creative works!



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