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Discussion Starter #1
I published my book on Amazon the other day. I still need to decide how to distribute it elsewhere however I sorted my TOC for Smashwords tonight. That is pending review and should be approved soon.

For the exclusive partners like Sony etc, I am going to use Smashwords. I'd like to do B&N directly but unfortunately I can't as I'm not from the USA. I can upload directly to Kobo and Apple though I'm unsure as to what the best thing to do is. I'm happy to use the free ISBN from Smashwords. Kobo actually provides a free ISBN too however I realise I shouldn't have different ISBN's for the epub versions available (i.e. different isbn's for my book at smashwords and Kobo). Apple requires a unique ISBN too though it's been about 4 days since I've signed up for them and I've not heard anything from them. I just don't want to distribute to all channels on Smashwords as I'd rather upload directly where I can (i.e. I don't see the point in losing 10% commission if I can do it myself).

So it seems to me that the best thing to do is either use the free ISBN for Smashwords and distribute to all channels or just purchase some ISBN's. It's £294 for 100 ISBN's in the UK. I'm happy to pay that as it will last me a long time.

Here's what's concerning me though. I'm unsure as to whether I'll use them. My first book is kind of a test to see how my book performs across all platforms. If I find that the vast majority of sales are through Amazon, I'll probably enroll my next books in KDP Select (I'd prefer to release it everywhere but it comes down to audience and if Amazon can provide the biggest audience, it makes sense to go with them). In that situation, I wouldn't need to buy any ISBN's as Kindle doesn't need it and CreateSpace provides it for free.

I'm interesting in knowing what others do. That is, do you just let Smashwords handle everything and use the free ISBN option or do you purchase ISBN's for yourself so that you have full control.

Kevin
 

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If you use smashword's isbn, you're not supposed to use it elsewhere.  Also, I thought I read somewhere that apple doesn't require an isbn anymore . . . Can't swear to that, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Jerri Lincoln said:
If you use smashword's isbn, you're not supposed to use it elsewhere. Also, I thought I read somewhere that apple doesn't require an isbn anymore . . . Can't swear to that, though.
I hope that's true :)

I'd like to upload directly to Kobo too. It's a higher commission and the user interface is amazing. They automatically assign an ISBN though which means that I'd still have different ISBN's at smashwords and Kobo.
 

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Jerri Lincoln said:
If you use smashword's isbn, you're not supposed to use it elsewhere. Also, I thought I read somewhere that apple doesn't require an isbn anymore . . . Can't swear to that, though.
I'm in the process of uploading yo apple & yeah, they no longer require an ISBN but they strongly recommend it. I found this out after I already purchased them!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
KellyC said:
I'm in the process of uploading yo apple & yeah, they no longer require an ISBN but they strongly recommend it. I found this out after I already purchased them!
Long term, it's probably in all of our interests to buy isbns. In the short term, maybe not.
 

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Kevin Muldoon said:
I'd like to upload directly to Kobo too. It's a higher commission and the user interface is amazing. They automatically assign an ISBN though which means that I'd still have different ISBN's at smashwords and Kobo.
Just FYI, a lot of folks are having problems with Kobo-them not paying what's owed, them sending writers other folks' information, etc. There are several threads about it, around here.

Smashwords' ISBN is specifically for the EPUB file of the Smashwords edition. You would need another ISBN to put on EPUB files used elsewhere.

Now, you don't have to own ISBNs to get into the major vendors. (I don't go direct through Apple, but I've been told by folks who do that you don't need ISBNs.) There are some vendors that do need ISBNs-like some of the ones XinXii can send you to.

Personally, I stick to the free ISBNs when offered. Eventually, I'll likely buy ISBNs for those few vendors that require them, but I expect that'll be another year or two.
 

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The ISBN is the travel agent of the indie ebook publishing world. It's a heritage of print and brick and mortar that really has no use for most of us because of us go directly to our retailer and upload and customers get it directly from them. The ISBN is all about distribution between publisher, wholesaler, and retailers. We don't do that.

So, don't worry about having multiple ISBNs because nobody will ever really care. If you are just starting out, I wouldn't buy ISBNs. Even if it kept you from going direct to Apple (the answer to which seems to change with the winds), you would have to sell a pretty good number of books at the iBooks store before you broke even on going direct rather than letting Smashwords take their 10%
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Carradee said:
Just FYI, a lot of folks are having problems with Kobo-them not paying what's owed, them sending writers other folks' information, etc. There are several threads about it, around here.

Smashwords' ISBN is specifically for the EPUB file of the Smashwords edition. You would need another ISBN to put on EPUB files used elsewhere.

Now, you don't have to own ISBNs to get into the major vendors. (I don't go direct through Apple, but I've been told by folks who do that you don't need ISBNs.) There are some vendors that do need ISBNs-like some of the ones XinXii can send you to.

Personally, I stick to the free ISBNs when offered. Eventually, I'll likely buy ISBNs for those few vendors that require them, but I expect that'll be another year or two.
I hadn't heard of any problems with Kobo. I'm kind of surprised as their interface is so slick. Guess you shouldn't judge a book by its cover ;D ;D ;D

Katie Elle said:
The ISBN is the travel agent of the indie ebook publishing world. It's a heritage of print and brick and mortar that really has no use for most of us because of us go directly to our retailer and upload and customers get it directly from them. The ISBN is all about distribution between publisher, wholesaler, and retailers. We don't do that.

So, don't worry about having multiple ISBNs because nobody will ever really care. If you are just starting out, I wouldn't buy ISBNs. Even if it kept you from going direct to Apple (the answer to which seems to change with the winds), you would have to sell a pretty good number of books at the iBooks store before you broke even on going direct rather than letting Smashwords take their 10%
Great comment. That's really hit the nerve with me. You're right - I shouldn't be buying ISBN's if I don't need them. Whilst I haven't heard any problems about Apple, I'm not encouraged by the fact that they told me my account application would only take 1 or 2 days and 5 or 6 days later I've still not received any email from them. Plus the fact they force you to upload your book from an apple computer is very annoying.

Think I might just save myself hassle and distribute my book everywhere (except Amazon) via Smashwords. I can always review the situation later.
 

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If you really go with Smashwords for all distribution except Amazon, I can think of only one real advantage to using your own ISBN instead of the free one Smashwords offers: future flexibility. If you get your own ISBN now and use it at Smashwords, you can continue to use that ISBN regardless of what you might decide to do in the future. The free Smashwords ISBN can only be used for distribution through Smashwords, but you would be able to use your own ISBN wherever you upload your book or however you decide to distribute it later. It's up to you to decide whether or not that potential advantage is worth the cost.

I always assign one ISBN to the paperback and one to the EPUB. If I do a hardback, that gets one too. The MobiPocket format gets an ASIN from Amazon, which is good enough for me. My wife and I invested in a block of 1,000 ISBNs a couple of years ago, so I only burn about a dollar when I assign one. We publish books for a few other authors as well, so we might actually use them up in our lifetime!
 

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Huh. I uploaded to Apple a few weeks ago and couldn't find a way around the ISBN purchase, so I went ahead and bought ten.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
RobertJCrane said:
Huh. I uploaded to Apple a few weeks ago and couldn't find a way around the ISBN purchase, so I went ahead and bought ten.
Yeah it looks like it's needed unless you release your book for free. From http://www.apple.com/itunes/content-providers/book-faq.html

Do I need an ISBN?
An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is required if you have a paid book agreement for any book you are selling on the iBookstore. An ISBN uniquely identifies the book and its current edition, and helps sellers ensure that they are marketing the right book. In the U.S., you can obtain an ISBN by visiting www.myidentifiers.com. Outside the U.S., visit www.isbn-international.org/agency.

An ISBN is not required if you have a free book agreement and choose to offer your book free on the iBookstore.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
DRMarvello said:
If you really go with Smashwords for all distribution except Amazon, I can think of only one real advantage to using your own ISBN instead of the free one Smashwords offers: future flexibility. If you get your own ISBN now and use it at Smashwords, you can continue to use that ISBN regardless of what you might decide to do in the future. The free Smashwords ISBN can only be used for distribution through Smashwords, but you would be able to use your own ISBN wherever you upload your book or however you decide to distribute it later. It's up to you to decide whether or not that potential advantage is worth the cost.

I always assign one ISBN to the paperback and one to the EPUB. If I do a hardback, that gets one too. The MobiPocket format gets an ASIN from Amazon, which is good enough for me. My wife and I invested in a block of 1,000 ISBNs a couple of years ago, so I only burn about a dollar when I assign one. We publish books for a few other authors as well, so we might actually use them up in our lifetime!
I'm surprised more authors don't club together to share the costs of ISBN's. At $1,000 for 1000, ten authors could get together to acquire 100 ISBN's each.
 

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Kevin Muldoon said:
I'm surprised more authors don't club together to share the costs of ISBN's. At $1,000 for 1000, ten authors could get together to acquire 100 ISBN's each.
That might work if all of the authors banded together under a single publishing company umbrella. Part of the ISBN is the "publisher prefix," which identifies the publisher of the title. That's why Smashwords is listed as your publisher if you use one of their free numbers. All of the authors who shared in the block of 1,000 ISBNs would look like they were being published by the same publishing entity.

I would not be surprised to see a coalition of self-published authors get together to pool resources and effectively create their own independent publishing company. That may have already happened and I just haven't heard about it. In spite of great resources like KindleBoards and the dozens of self-publishing books out there, it does seem inefficient for all of us to have to learn the same hard lessons and repeat the same expensive mistakes.

On the other hand, the term "herding cats" comes to mind when I think of a dozen self-published authors getting together to form a publishing business. :D
 

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In the Netherlands, ISBNs can be bought through Centraal Boekhuis, which requires you to buy a publisher prefix (about 52 euro) and reserve either 10 or 100 ISBNs under that prefix. However, you don't pay for an ISBN unless you use it, so I bought a prefix and reserved 100 ISBNs, since every KillFile short story also requires a separate ISBN. Per ISBN I pay 10.76 euro. So far, I bought four ISBNs for the epubs of Locked Room, Microchip Murder, Reprobate, and Peccadillo. So I have 96 ISBNs left on my current prefix that I'll only pay for when I register for a new ISBN.
While it's still an expense, especially for the free KillFiles, but I see that as the cost of publishing. And you have to pay for the ISBN only once per publication.
 

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AmsterdamAssassin said:
In the Netherlands, ISBNs can be bought through Centraal Boekhuis, which requires you to buy a publisher prefix (about 52 euro) and reserve either 10 or 100 ISBNs under that prefix. However, you don't pay for an ISBN unless you use it, so I bought a prefix and reserved 100 ISBNs, since every KillFile short story also requires a separate ISBN. Per ISBN I pay 10.76 euro. So far, I bought four ISBNs for the epubs of Locked Room, Microchip Murder, Reprobate, and Peccadillo. So I have 96 ISBNs left on my current prefix that I'll only pay for when I register for a new ISBN.
While it's still an expense, especially for the free KillFiles, but I see that as the cost of publishing. And you have to pay for the ISBN only once per publication.
That seems like a rather cool arrangement. In the US, you have to pay for the block of numbers up-front, whether or not you ever get around to using them. My wife and I used up our block of 10 pretty quickly, so when we needed to buy more, we had to decide between a block of 100 and 1,000. Getting 100 would only cover us for a total of 50 books with EPUB/Paperback formats and even fewer if we released anything in hardback or some other future format. That's why we went for 1,000. Plus, we've since started publishing other author's works, so we're glad we got the bigger block.
 
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