ISBNs cause authors and self-publishers a great deal of concern. They shouldn’t because it is all really quite straightforward. ISBNs simply record 3 pieces of information.
- Who the Publisher is
- Information on the book
- Where to order the book from
The question that we are most often asked by self publishers, is ‘should we have our own ISBN number?’ We think the answer is a definite Yes! It is the publisher of a book that holds the ISBN for that title. As a self-publisher, you are both the author and publisher rolled into one. Therefore, if you do not have your own ISBN, you are not the publisher!
This is a vitally important distinction, because it is the publisher and holder of the ISBN number, that holds all the ancillary rights to a book – things like translation rights, foreign rights, serialisation rights and, most importantly in this age of the eBook, electronic rights!
|Jonathan Clifford writes|
a very informative article in
The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook
If a company provides you with an ISBN, it will be their ISBN, so they are the publisher. As such, unless you have a written agreement that states otherwise, they will own all the publishing rights to your book.
Jonathan Clifford, who writes for the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook states…
“For a book to be genuinely self-published, a name designated by the author as his/her publishing house must appear on the copyright page of the book as ‘Publisher’ and the book’s ISBN must be registered by the ISBN Agency to that author as publisher. Any company that publishes books under it’s own name or imprint cannot, by definition, claim to help authors to self-publish.”