Booknomics


Publishing, Print on Demand, Self-publishing in India from Pothi.com Team

5 Common Mistakes Authors and Self-publishers Make While Assigning ISBNs to their Books

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It’s not enough getting the International Standard Book Number (ISBN). This numeric identifier that contains thirteen digits needs to be properly understood before you add it to your book. In this article, we look at five common misconceptions that people have about these much-coveted ISBNs.

                                                     Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. Using the same ISBN across different titles
An ISBN doesn’t represent an author, so you can’t use the same ISBN across all your titles. It is even more specific than a single title.

2. Using the same ISBN across eBook and print book
ISBN not only represents a title but also a specific format and edition of the book. It cannot be shared between eBook and print versions of even the same title.

3. Using the same ISBN in paperback and hard cover
Even using the same ISBN for different formats of print books is incorrect. Paperback and hard cover must have different ISBNs.

4. Using the same ISBN across different editions
An ISBN has to be unique to a specific format of a specific title. It also has to be unique to a specific edition. If a new edition of a book is being brought out, it can’t reuse the previous edition’s ISBN. Reprinting with the same ISBN is fine. This concept, however, runs into some trouble with print on demand since you can keep making small changes in the books all the time.

At what point does a book deserve to be called a new edition? When you make significant changes,  calling it a new edition and assigning a new ISBN will be good from a marketing perspective. Another recommendation we have is if your changes are significant enough that they change the physical specifications of the book like the number of pages or page size, then you should treat this as a different edition and assign a new ISBN.

5. Using the same ISBN across different country editions
Even if the content is the same, if you are creating different editions to sell at different prices in different countries, you should use different ISBNs for them. ‘Price change’, as such, does not require changing the ISBN. But having two differently priced editions at different places at the same time is not exactly a price change. It is really two different editions. Keeping the ISBN the same across differently priced editions can also create confusion in the listing of your book on online stores. So, use two different ISBNs in such cases.

 

Let us know if you have any ISBN related queries that haven’t been answered.

 

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