Such a deal … buy your ISBN for only ten bucks … who wants to pay $125? The real questions are: are they legit ISBNs? Or, are they knockoff? Or, are they a re-sale? And if they are a re-sale, are they being sold by an approved resale outlet? Are they legit … or are they fake?


All authors need to understand this: ISBNs are ONLY ISSUED by Bowker … it doesn’t matter what name you get them through. And in fact, it may be a giant hiccup if you take this route. Bowker has the exclusive distribution rights in the United States … other companies have them in other parts of the world. Here’s what and others like it do: they purchase a bank of ISBNS… you too, can buy 1000 for $1000 or $1 an ISBN (now, that’s a deal)—where single ones are sold for $125 via Bowker, 10 for $250, 100 for $500 and 1000 for $1000, etc.

Anyone can buy and then repackage and sell them as singles or multiples at, say $10. Supposedly, they are a “channel” arrangement with Bowker to do that. You think—”WOW—such a deal.” Maybe. Maybe not.

They are making 10 times on their money—not a bad ROI for sure! … and get this: all those ISBNs are really listed as them—whoever sells them to you and originally purchased them—as the publisher … you see, still owns them in their ID bank with Bowker … they have resold to you the perpetuity use of them. Technically, your book is connected to the ISBN via title, but maybe not as the publisher. Before you buy any of the “deals” check it out—determine if you get to register your book personally with the ISBN so that Bookscan picks up your retail sales and IDs you as the publisher.

My take … if you are a publisher, you should have a minimum of 10 ISBNs … better yet, 100. Why 100?–it’s cheaper for sure ($5 each) and if you really get the re-purposing side of just what one book can create—breaking it up into mini books, creating new books and products, etc.

I have one client who took his tome—published what we called the Mothership; then broke it into sections—created each in a POD format with corresponding eBook; and then took 9 other chapters in the book that stood alone-did the POD and eBook side—we morphed the cover just a tad—branding was there; created a new intro for each. One book = 15 books. He was amazed. He is selling. He is happy. He needed 15 ISBNs and bought 100, all registered to his own publishing company.

When my husband and I first started Mile High Press, we pulled down 100 ISBNs several years ago—we are now at #52 in use. If I do what I plan to do, I will have to go for a second round of 100 soon.

Noodle here … what are your big plans … the Vision thing for your authoring and publishing? I’m appalled at the hooking up of Bowker with any “publishing” provider for profit such as iUniverse which it has just done, especially when there is controversy around it and its parent company, Author Solutions, a publishing predator. Right now, Bowker owns the game in publishing town and controls ISBNs. Who it officially allows to resell is another game and then those who just buy and resell and don’t give a twit if it’s official or not is yet another.

As always, it’s an author beware scenario.