Indie Pub: The ISBN Question

One thing that’s had me puzzled as I move through the indie pub maze is whether or not an indie title needs an ISBN number from my own Bowkers account or if there is any potential harm to be incurred by using the $10 ISBN number you can get from Createspace. One thing I have realized: there is a TON of misinformation out there.

Buying your own ISBN from Bowkers, which costs $125 for one, or $295 for 10 (temp price $275), and using for your book at Createspace, gives you the option of having your book listed for sale as published by your own imprint. But what does that really mean in terms of discoverability? Do readers notice or even look for this? I don’t think so. I was a reader long before I became a writer, and I’ve never once looked for a book based on the ISBN or imprint, or even noticed the imprint (unless it had a neat logo!).

Since becoming a writer with a growing awareness of the publishing industry, I do scroll down to the “Product Details” section and look at that publishing information. Still, it doesn’t drive a purchasing decision—I do it out of plain old curiosity.

I was under the impression that I simply must use my own ISBN number in order to get my books into libraries and other mysterious avenues of distribution that become closed to me without it. But the truth is actually opposite. Using your own ISBN number when you publish through Amazon’s Createspace actually closes off distribution channels to you. You’re better off using the $10 ISBN option and have a number assigned to you from Createspace, in order to get that wider distribution.

I just loaded my print book files into Createspace and have ordered my proofs in the mail. Can’t wait to see them!! It was during this process that this question came up and prompted me to stop and do a little research. I think that if I were to get hardcovers printed through Ingram, an ISBN would be needed, but not sure if that’s something you can purchase through them as well.  There is so much to learn, but for now I remain super stoked that even now, there are no barriers to getting my book out to readers.

I’m in NY this week, enjoying the humidity and the sights. Living in Colorado, my memory of the weather back here had lapsed.

Big hair in the city.


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