Self-Publishing ISBN Numbers Surge in 2012

Self-Publishing ISBN Numbers 59% Surge in 2012

Self publishing ISBN Numbers

Self Publishing ISBN Numbers

By Deborah S. Nelson, Author/Publisher Publishing SOLO & VRTG

A new report shows that the self-publishing industry is approaching the $52 billion dollar mark. Stats, reports and figures vary; but one comprehensive way to measure growth in the self-publishing industry is through the purchase of self publishing ISBN numbers; as every book needs them. Last year,  purchases of self publishing ISBN numbers increased a whopping 422% from 2007, when print on demand became viable.

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The ISBN number is on the back of each published book, and cataloged by Bowker Books, who offers a directory of books to bookstores each year. This is an easy figure to measure through such online print on demand companies such as Createspace, Smashwords, Kobo, Lulu who buy  massive volumes of self publishing ISBN number to provide to self published authors/users. See the latest article printed in Talking New Media:

The company most people associate with ISBN numbers, Bowker, said that an analysis of U.S. ISBN data shows that the number of self-published titles in 2012 increased 59 percent over 2011 to more than 391,000 – and 422 percent over 2007. The analysis was done by the company’s affiliate ProQuest.

“The most successful self-publishers don’t view themselves as writers only, but as business owners,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker Director of Identifier Services, in the company’s press release. “They invest in their businesses, hiring experts to fill skill gaps and that’s building a thriving new service infrastructure in publishing.”

A huge portion of the ISBN numbers, over 80 percent, came from eight companies, with Bowker citing Smashwords and CreateSpace.

I’m sure their data is correct, but it may actually underestimate the growth of self-publishing. While Apple requires an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to publish an eBook inside its iBooks Store, Amazon does not – neither does for its print and eBooks.

In fact, there is a rather lively discussion online right now about the value and necessity of having an ISBN number. For many, they are an expensive luxury, and smack a bit of a shakedown of self and small publishers.

It won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the first thing on Bowker’s “to do list” for self-publishers is the purchase of an ISBN number. A single ISBN number costs $125 (or about 100 percent of some eBooks sales!). The cost goes all the way down to $1 a piece, but only if you agree to buy 1000 at a time. (See More)


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