Thursday, October 15, 2015


Well, yesterday I crossed the Rubicon, so to speak. I bought ISBNs.

What’s an ISBN?

If you want to publish a book, you need an ISBN for it.

It stands for International Standard Book Number. It’s like a book’s social security number – a standardized number that identifies a work on any database anywhere in the world. For thirty or forty years, it was a ten-digit number, but with the proliferation of works and formats, it has been expanded to thirteen digits. Every different format – paperback, hardcover, audio book, every eBook format – requires a unique ISBN. You can see them usually on the back cover above the bar code, or on the first left page near the copyright information.

Unfortunately, ISBNs are not got for free.

As of yesterday, the going rate for one ISBN was $125. Ouch!

Fortunately, the company that issues them, Bowker, let’s you purchase blocks of ISBNs at a discounted rate. Ten ISBNs will cost you $295, or $29.50 a number. That’s a sharp discount! And a block of a hundred goes for $575, or $5.75 a number! So, they obviously want you to buy in bulk.

That can be a problem for the self-publisher.

So I bought a block of ten. At this stage I’m looking to publish my book in Kindle, Nook, iBook, and paperback formats. That’ll require four ISBNs. I have two other books in the wings awaiting final editing. When I get to the last one, I’ll have to buy another block of ten.

But, man, I get real uneasy upfronting money. Probably one of the major reasons I’ve put off researching paperback publishing, as I don’t want to spend a couple grand to have a couple hundred physical books sitting in my garage.

Thus the whole “rubicon” thing. Like Caesar crossing the Italian border river, marching on the Senate with his army, there is a feeling of no turning back. Gotta push forward, and make that $295 count. Not to mention the couple-hundred bucks I’ve invested in this thing.

It’s scary, but it’s also exhilarating.

Next up: Kindle and the Author Website ... 

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