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Re: [BKARTS] ISBN, CIP & bar code
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Re: [BKARTS] ISBN, CIP & bar code
- From: Ben Wiens <ben@BENWIENS.COM>
- Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 09:48:37 -0700
- Importance: Normal
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THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION
I wasn't the original person asking the questions, but thanks for the
information about the ISBN number. I want to sell my books directly from my
own website. I was wondering if I should get an ISBN for my books. As you
point out it isn't necessary, at least when selling in low volumes. I don't
need a CIP or barcode either. I have looked through a lot of library books
and not all of them have an ISBN number so your information makes sense. My
dad bought a really good book about the basics on how to run a computer from
a full page ad in Popular Science. I am sure the publisher has sold 10s of
thousands of books and the book doesn't have an ISBN number as the book
isn't sold in bookstores.
REVISED BOOKS NEED NEW ISBN
One of the reasons I am discouraged in using the ISBN is that a new number
has to be used for each revision and binding style of the book. I was
considering making changes to the book every 3 months to keep it up to date.
In that case I would go through a lot of numbers. See the following:
"Each format or binding must have a separate ISBN (i.e. hardcover,
paperbound, VHS video, laserdisc, e-book format, etc). A new ISBN is
required for a revised edition."
WHAT USE IS THE ISBN FOR THE AVERAGE PERSON?
The question is: What value is the ISBN for the average person. For example.
Say I see a book in the library and like it. I want to buy my own copy. So I
jot down it's ISBN number, but will this number help me to purchase the
book? I know that technical books keep getting constantly revised. I tell
the person in the bookstore that I want the latest revision of that book.
The bookstore won't look up the book based on it's ISBN number. They will
ask me for the title and the author because I don't know the latest ISBN
WHAT USE IS THE ISBN FOR EVERYONE?
What is the reason for getting an ISBN number? According to:
"The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition
of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition,
allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries,
universities, wholesalers and distributors."
In light of the above problems with new revisions, I don't see any use for
the ISBN. The average person shouldn't be using the ISBN and I don't see
that the ISBN is useful for booksellers either. They too want to know the
latest revision of a book and they can better find that latest book from the
title, author information. For database purposes the specific revision
number and publisher identifies the book in a much better and useful way.
After all what useful information can anyone glean directly from a set of
So the question is? Do libraries and booksellers use the ISBN as the
database unique product code? That might be helpful in not having to make up
their own. But realistically do they make up their own or would that be so
hard to do? If they need a number, I am sure that the barcode number is much
more useful as that is what they use to establish the price and is a better
What is the real reason for getting an ISBN number in practice? So the book
can appear in "Books in Print".
Ben Wiens...applied energy scientist
Ben Wiens Energy Science Inc.
8-1200 Brunette Ave. Coquitlam BC V3K1G3 Canada
Energy Website: http://www.benwiens.com
Read my popular web-booklet "The Future of Fuel Cells"
For those who don't know, ISBN means 'International Standard Book
Number' CIP means 'Cataloging in Progress' (a Library of Congress
numbering system, distinct from the Dewey Catalog number) and
neither of these are needed if a library wishes to have your book
on their shelves.
(ISSN means 'International Standard Serial Number' and is used to
describe magazines, newsletters, etc.)
Bar code is that splash of thin and thick lines on the back cover
of books one purchases, or canned milk, or bread, or most anything
which is sold these days, and is read by a scanner.
There is a charge for ISBN numbers, no charge for CIP numbers, and
a charge for barcodes.
I paid Bowker Books for a set of ISBN numbers so that my titles would
appear in 'Books in Print' but have not bothered paying for a barcode
because I don't expect my books to appear on supermarket shelves.
Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and many other distributors have purchased
titles I've published, for re-sale to their customers and they have
never told me that they won't buy my titles because they lack a barcode.
When I remember, I send a pre-publication sheet off to LC for a CIP
number, but I don't consider that very important.
I certainly would not lose any sleep over not doing any of that paper
work for an edition of 50 copies (or 200 copies) of a title.
More than that, and it would probably be worthwhile to do a CIP, if
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