(You've read before about how important it is to buy your own ISBNs. Distribution Expert, Robin Cutler of Ingram Spark, covered the topic in her Q&A post last year, but it's worth reviewing. Book Retail & Library Expert, Amy Collins, shares her perspective based on working with stores, wholesalers, and libraries.)
Here are a few questions I have heard in the last few weeks. Actually, I have heard these questions again and again from authors over the last few years.
“Can’t I just use the CreateSpace ISBN?”
“But I heard I can buy one ISBN for A LOT less money from an online service!”
“I have a designer who is going to layout my book and they will let me use one of their ISBNs!”
No. No. No.
Investing in Your Publishing Career
If you are going to self-publish a book and you want to be taken seriously as an author and as a publisher, you need to buy your own ISBNs from the official ISBN agency. It is very important to have complete control of your brand, your publishing decisions, and your distribution options. When you purchase ISBNs directly from the official government agency assigned to your country, the name listed on your book and on the pages that LIST your book will all show the book as YOURS. If you buy an ISBN from a third party, the Books in Print database and all other book industry databases will show the book as belonging to THEM.
Where to Buy Your Own ISBNs
If you are a US publisher or self-published author, spend the money and go to www.myidentifiers.com and buy your OWN ISBNs. If you are from another country, just go to https://www.isbn-international.org/agencies and choose your country. Many countries offer citizens FREE ISBNs, so there is NO reason to purchase or take a third party ISBN from CreateSpace, IngramSpark or anyone else.
Book buyers, librarians, and reviewers only want to work with publishers and authors that take their publishing seriously. Readers and industry professionals want to know that your books have been published correctly with all the proper steps taken. A legitimate ISBN registered in Books in Print properly is easy to accomplish. If you skip this obvious and very public step, what ELSE might you be missing? In using a third party ISBN, you can throw your professional reputation into doubt.
Save a Little, Lose a Lot
I know it is tempting to save a few hundred dollars, but it is not worth it. Book buyers will see who owns your ISBN during their first look. It matters to them. I promise. It matters a LOT.
Buy your own ISBNs. US publishers can purchase 10 for under $300. A pack of ten is less expensive than buying three ISBNs individually. You will quite often USE more than that because you will need a separate ISBN for your eBook, another for your paperback, a third for hardcover, and any other formats or editions (like an audiobook) you may come up with in the future. ISBNs never expire and can be used years (or even decades) later.
It is a worthwhile investment.
If you haven't seen the new version of BookWorks, please check us out for more great content like this and join our community of indie authors, editors, coaches, designers, marketers, bloggers and other self-publishing pros.