Thursday, May 12, 2016

Adrift in the Ocean of ISBN

Trying to pull things together towards publication of The Single Eye. I've been researching the whole matter of ISBNs and whether it's the best idea to own your own or if it's no big deal to take what CreateSpace or whoever assigns you. And even after a week of hitting expert websites I still feel like I'm drowning in a sea of murky gray sludge.

One thing has come clear: Turns out that Bowker, who has the American monopoly on ISBNs (how is that even legal?) makes whoever purchases the numbers put down their name or company name as the publisher, even when the purchaser is an ISBN reselling outfit like Publisher Services or ISBN Agency. The name attached to the number doesn't change, even after the buyer sells it to a third party. (And apparently, not just anyone is permitted to do that.)  Ergo, the original ISBN purchaser is the publisher of the work that has the number on it, period. Some ISBN resellers will allow you to put your own imprint name on your work, but the ultimate, official publisher is still the reseller.

The web authorities I've been reading are most of them adamant that it's best for indie authors to own their own ISBNs, because . . . because . . . well, of all sorts of reasons. But they assume you know why those reasons are a big deal. They say a lot about distribution, and availability, and record-keeping, and tracking, and readers' ability to find your book in search engines.  But they don't give examples of what that all means on the ground. Putting it bluntly, how will owning my ISBNs enhance the income from my books? Exactly how does it lead to fame and fortune? The discussion is over my head and I can't get my mind around it.

At the moment my desire to Own My Own is more a gut feeling than anything else. Life is so messy, it's nice to have things tidy when I can. I'd like to have my own little private DBA publishing concern and put out all my books under that name from the beginning, maybe with different imprints depending on if the book is romantic suspense or horror or whatever. I'd like to start as I mean to go on.

The immediate question is, if I stretch my already-tight budget to cover an ISBN purchase, will it be a Prudent Move or a Wicked Waste?