What You Need to Know About ISBNs
An ISBN is
universally global. This then begs the question: so why on earth do
different countries have different application systems? Why is the
price in one country substantially different than another? We may
never know but what we can do is compare the U.S. with Canada.
In the U.S.,
Bowker is the agency you contact to apply for an ISBN. It’s hard to
tell who owns Bowker and whether or not it is a government agency
just by looking at the Website. But when you apply, have your credit
card ready because you can pay anywhere from $125 to $200 for a
single ISBN and $275 to $400 for a block of 10. Why the discrepancy?
The cheaper price is based on a 15-day turnaround. If you want your
number fast-tracked, you pay more. Here’s the breakdown.
Canada’s ISBNs are
applied through the government. The best part about the Canadian
ISBN system? It’s free!
The system was
changed in 2008 and allows the publisher to log online to update and
change information plus add new releases, while being able to update
the status of each release. The only approval needed is to apply as
a publisher, and that usually takes a couple of days. Once you
receive a user login, the rest is up to you. Getting an ISBN is
instant. It's a great system and requires little manpower for the
ISBN office administration. Here’s how the agency’s Anne Price
explained it to me last September:
Once in Logbook in
the CISS system, click on Assign New ISBN right under Manage
Logbook. This will take you into a page where you will need to
complete some information in order to receive your ISBN number. You
will need to do this for each number you need. For you convenience,
we have entered default information in most fields so you don't need
to worry about filling them in unless you plan on exporting this
file to major booksellers such as Indigo, Amazon, etc. You will need
to fill in Title, Subject (12 characters maximum) and Contributor
information. Then click Save at the bottom, and your ISBN will
automatically appear in the Manage Logbook section.
You can only apply
for an ISBN in the country you reside. So if you’re Canadian, you
can keep your credit card in your wallet.
Be aware there are
a number of Print on Demand companies that charge for ISBN numbers,
whether the author resides in Canada or not. They purchase or
receive free blocks of ISBN numbers and then resell them for a
profit. In most cases, the ISBN is under the POD company’s name.
Read other articles and learn more about
[Contact the author for permission to republish or reuse this article.]