Writing Your Proposal — International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN)

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    What is an ISBN?

    According to the International ISBN agency, "An ISBN is essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes."

    We keep a reference of your ISBN in the Metadata section of your Book Details page.

    This helps us keep track of sales, especially if we are publishing a new edition of your title (which happens if there are substantial changes, amounting to rewriting the book, rather than a few corrections). If that happens, we need a new ISBN for it, and we can record both ISBNs in the same place so that sales can be recorded on the same page too.

    We give your book its ISBN number when we enter it onto the JHP website.

    We buy the International Standard Book Number so that it can be recognized by any database anywhere in the world. They are allocated to publishers and identifiable as such, so they cannot be transferred between individuals/companies or titles. They are 13 digits – prior to 2007 they were 10 digits, so for some books we have two. A separate ISBN is not necessary for Amazon, but it is for most other online outlets; it is also listed at the bottom of your Book Details page under META DATA, as is the ebook ISBN.

    We sometimes re-package titles, particularly if an author has published several with us, they're going well, and we want a more consistent approach for them. In which case:

    The ISBN Agency says publishers need to assign a new ISBN if:

    • the title is changed
    • the sub title is changed
    • a new format is produced
    • the cover is changed and the previous cover edition is still available.
    • the title is moved into different imprint
    • there is more than one volume in a series – a separate ISBN is required for each volume and an extra for the series as a whole
    • it would be worth someone buying the revised edition, having already bought the previous one
    • the supply chain needs to differentiate the new edition from a previous one
    • it is necessary to be able to specify this new edition with x, y, z changes rather than the one without
    • the publisher markets the book as a different edition number.

    And publishers don’t need to assign a new ISBN if:

    • the cover changed and no other editions with a different cover are available to readers
    • the price changed
    • misprints and typos corrected.

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