It’s All in the Numbers

from Suzzanne Kelley, PhD; Publisher at NDSU Press

Did you ever wonder where ISBNs come from and what they are all about?

Publishers must purchase a unique ISBN–International Standard Book Number–for every book they publish. If a single title, such as our Boy Wanted, by Ryan Christianson, for example, is also published as a digital version, then both the print and the digital versions have their own unique ISBN. Interestingly, the LCCN–Library of Congress Number–is unique to the title, no matter how many forms the title takes on: print hardcopy, print paperback, digital, or audio. So, Boy Wanted has two ISBNs and one LCCN. Likewise for Pacing Dakota, by Thomas D. Isern, which is published as a print version and soon to be released as an audio version.

9781946163066_29-95_ean BARCODE ISERN

ISBN barcode for hardcover print version of Pacing Dakota, by Thomas D. Isern

Bowker Identifier Services is the only US agency where ISBNs may be purchased. Bowker notes that the ISBN serves multiple purposes:

  • identifies a book’s specific format, edition, and publisher
  • links to essential information about your book
  • enables more efficient marketing and distribution of your title
  • is required by most retailers
  • is the global standard for book identification
  • improves the likelihood your book will be found and purchased

A single ISBN number costs $125 today. If you buy enough for multiple books, your per unit cost goes down significantly. At NDSU Press, we have twice purchased in blocks of one hundred ISBNs. Prior to 2007, ISBNs contained ten digits. Since 2007, a standard ISBN has thirteen digits.

The ISBN is a digital code, and once you learn how to read it, you’ll know more about your book purchase. So, what do the numbers in an ISBN stand for?

Let’s take the thirteen-digit Pacing Dakota ISBN once more: 978-1-946163-06-6. Notice that the ISBN is divided into five parts, each separated by a hyphen.

  • 978 : Prefix element; indicates that the book is published in the United States
  • 1 : Registration group identifier; A “0″ or “1” indicates the book is published for speakers of English.
  • 946163 : Registrant element; identifies the publisher; This particular number is unique to North Dakota State University Press.
  • 06 : Title identifier; In combination with registrant element, the title identifier indicates the singular unit of publication. This number is unique to a specific title in a specific format.
  • 6 : Check digit; The check digit ranges from 0 to 10 [X is used for 10] and is a way to check for any errors within the code. To explain the check digit further–which I won’t do here–requires converting the thirteen-digit code to a ten-digit code (there are online conversion services that do this for free) and then computing a series of multiplication actions. Let it suffice to say, the system works.

Here is a link to a fun Bowker video with more information about the purpose and benefits of ISBNs.

And in wrapping up this article on ISBNs, I’ll close with an image of our old-fashioned ISBN print-out page, where we’ve entered title names, matching them with their ISBN identities. We do this officially online nowadays, but for the sake of continuity in our history of record keeping, we continue to hand-write each entry.

2018-11-20 17.16.46


IPPY Book Awards 2019

From Zachary Vietz, Publicist at NDSU Press

NDSU Press is happy to announce FOUR of our authors’ works have been selected as winning medalists in the 2019 IPPY Book Awards! We are extremely happy and proud of our authors, and we hope these medals will shine proudly among their accolades.

Below are our award winners and their respective titles:

  • Apple in the Middle, by Dawn Quigley
    • Gold Medal – Multicultural Fiction – Juvenile/Young Adult
  • Pacing Dakota, by Tom Isern
    • Gold Medal – Midwest – Best Regional Non-Fiction
  • Songs of Horses and Lovers, by Madelyne Camrud
    • Gold Medal – Poetry – Specialty (Illustrated/Anthology)
  • Operation Snowbound: Life behind the Blizzards of 1949, by David W. Mills
    • Silver Medal – Midwest – Best Regional Non-Fiction

Independent publishers from around the world participated in the 23rd annual, 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards (the IPPYs). There are winners from five Australian provinces, seven Canadian provinces, forty-two states and the District of Columbia and Guam, plus France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, and more. We notice too that in addition to NDSU Press, there are fifteen US university presses with winning publications (but we are the ONLY one to claim four medals). We were up against some stiff competition!

You can find a full list of winners here.

Thank you to everyone who supports NDSU Press and its authors.


Making Audible Noise

from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher at NDSU Press
Our tagline (courtesy of an article in North Dakota Living) is “NDSU Press gives region a voice.” WELL, we are taking that “voice” to a whole new level. In the works right now is our first Audible book!
Graduate student Amanda Watts, who in addition to working on a PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture, has been taking on credits for the Certificate in Publishing. Her project this semester is to learn all the ins and outs of publishing an audio book through the Audible platform.

As producer for the project, Amanda collaborates with author Thomas D. Isern to deliver his recent NDSU Press publication, Pacing Dakota, in the audio format. In the publishing business, audio books have been outpacing (so to speak) the rise in sales of any other book format, whether as e-books (whose sales numbers have peaked and are now in decline, waiting perhaps for the next newest technical design for e-readers) or traditional print form (which is on the rise but not at the rate of audio book sales).

Because of Amanda’s interest in this project, and Tom’s willingness to read, we are really excited to be adding a new format to our publication process. If all goes according to plan, the Audible version of Pacing Dakota will be available this summer.

In the meantime, Pacing Dakota (and all of our books) can be purchased directly from NDSU Press at our online store, at your favorite independent bookstore, and through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Booksellers and librarians, contact us for wholesale/library discounts.)

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4th Annual NDSU Press Party

From NDSU Publicist Zachary Vietz

PressParty4 Front

It’s that time of the year again where NDSU Press gets to show off its great books!

Join us on Thursday, March 7, from 7 to 9 P.M. at the Harry D. McGovern Alumni Center and hear from our wonderful authors and their new books.

The works being featured are Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley, Hunter’s Log: Volumes II & III by Timothy Murphy, Pacing Dakota by Thomas D. Isern, Operation Snowbound: Life behind the Blizzards of 1949 by David W. Mills, Still by Rebecca E. Bender and Kenneth M. Bender, and Destiny Manifested by Bonnie Larson Staiger.

It is sure to be a wonderful, literature filled night with music from Cat Sank Trio, refreshments, a cash bar, and best of all: free and open to the public!

Check-in at our Facebook event here.

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Reading at the Rourke, Hunter’s Log: Volumes II & III

Join us at the Rourke Art GallHunter's Log II & III coverery on February 2, 2019, for a reading from one of the last works of the late prairie poet Timothy Murphy The event is also a showcase of Murphy’s collection of Charles Beck’s woodcuts. Murphy and Beck were long-time friends and collaborators, with several of Beck’s woodcut images appearing on Murphy’s book covers. These literary and visual artists found inspiration in the same landscape. We will be launching Hunter’s Log: Volumes II & III, with poems read by Murphy’s brother, Jim Murphy, and friends.

This publication celebration is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

The event will be from 3-5:30 P.M. at The Rourke Art Gallery & Museum located at 521 Main Ave, Moorhead, Minnesota 56560

RSVP to our Facebook event here and keep up to date on the event!

Upcoming Book Tour for Pacing Dakota!

We are happy to announce an upcoming book tour with Dr. Isern’s Pacing Dakota. Below you will find the NDSU Press write up with event details:

NDSU University Distinguished Professor Tom Isern, author of the acclaimed new book, Pacing Dakota, is coming to your locality! His Holiday Book Tour, December 6 through 9, includes appearances in Watford City, Minot, Williston, Bowman, and Bismarck. Each stop offers the opportunity to purchase books for holiday gifts or just good winter reading, with profits going to local businesses and organizations.

Watford City | Thur., Dec. 6 | 3 to 7:00 p.m.
Pioneer Museum of McKenzie County, in the Long X Visitor Center, 100 Second Av SW, Watford City
Booktalk (at 4:00 and 6:00 p.m.), reading, performance, and autograph party
Contact: Jan Dodge,

Minot | Fri., Dec. 7 | 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Main Street Books, 8 Main St. S., Minot
Conversation with readers, signing for purchasers
Contact: Val Stadick,

Williston | Fri., Dec. 7 | 5 to 8:00 p.m.
Books on Broadway, 12 W Broadway, Williston
Holiday open house, conversations with readers, signing for purchasers
Contact: Chuck Wilder,

Bowman | Sat., Dec. 8 | 3 to 5:00 p.m.
Pioneer Trails Regional Museum, 12 1st Av N, Bowman
Booktalk, song, reading, signing for purchasers
Contact: Jean Nudell,

Bismarck | Sun., Dec. 9 | 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.
Ferguson Books Bismarck, 413 E Broadway, Bismarck
Booktalk, song, reading, signing for purchasers
Contact: Dane Ferguson,

Visit the NDSU Press Facebook | View the video trailer for Pacing Dakota

Pacing Dakota, published by North Dakota State University Press, is a collection of stories from across North Dakota–stories that are packed with human interest, but also have much to say about community and life on the northern plains in our times. People of the region know Prof. Isern’s voice from Plains Folk, his weekly feature on Prairie Public Radio. He brings the same evocative narrative voice to the printed page in Pacing Dakota. The hardback work was published in July and is now in its second printing.

The author is keen to meet friends and grads of NDSU–and to sign books for them to read or to gift to friends, family, and fellow fans.

With Prof. Isern on the Holiday Book Tour will be Dr. Suzzanne Kelley, Editor-in-Chief, North Dakota State University Press. Dr. Kelley is happy to visit with prospective authors and others interested in the work of the press.

National, Regional, and State Awards

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press
Our publishing year has been phenomenal, with record-breaking sales and national, regional, and even state book awards that have us all marveling at our good fortune. Check out this list just for 2018:
  • Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction–General, Moonbeam Children’s Book Award: Apple in the Middle, by Dawn Quigley
  • First Place, North Dakota Library Association Notable Document Award: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson.
  • Third Place, North Dakota Library Association Notable Document Award: The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape, by William Caraher and Bret Weber
  • Gold Medalist, IPPY Awards, Cover Design: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones; cover design by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen
  • Bronze Medalist for Midwest–Best Regional Nonfiction, IPPY Awards: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson.
  • Bronze Medalist for Science, IPPY Awards: North Dakota’s Geologic Legacy, by John P. Bluemle
  • Finalist, Autobiography/Memoir, Foreword INDIES Award: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones
  • Finalist (of three), LGBT Nonfiction, Foreword INDIES Award: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones
  • Finalist (of three), Arts/Photography/Coffee Table Books, Midwest Book Awards: Music at NDSU, by Robert Groves
  • Finalist (of three), Fiction–Literary/Contemporary/Historical, Midwest Book Awards: This Could Have Been a Simple Story, by Ajla Terzic, Translated from the Bosnian by John K. Cox
  • Finalist (of three), Social Science/Political/Culture, Midwest Book Awards: Prairie Mosaic: An Ethnic Atlas of Rural North Dakota, 2nd Edition, by William C. Sherman, new Introduction by Thomas D. Isern
  • Finalist (of three), Social Science/Political/Culture, Midwest Book Awards:The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson.
  • Total Book Design (of three), Midwest Book Awards: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson; cover and interior design by Deb Tanner
Sydney Olstad and Suzzanne at IPPYS

Sydney Olstad (at left)–a graduate of NDSU and one of the publishing students (now working as a copywriter in New York!) who worked on the book team for Derby Girl: A Memoir and NDSU Press Editor in Chief Dr. Suzzanne Kelley, bringing home the Gold and Bronze from the Independent Publisher  Book Awards Gala (IPPY), May 28, 2018, at The Copacabana, NYC.  Joining in the fun were cover designer Jamie Hohnadel Trosen, author Sammi Jones, and Hayley Burdett, contract manager and former publishing student now working in New Jersey with literary agents and “the Big Five” publishing houses. Photo by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen.



Paper Camera

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press
Today my students will be talking about various aspects of publishing gleaned from their reading of Paper Camera: A Half Century with New Rivers Press. This anthology is a project of (I hate to say former, because I am grateful that most of them are still in my life today) colleagues, authors, and students from my days at New Rivers. Here is the poem–written by Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen–that inspired the title of our book:
The Paper Camera
Someone should invent
a paper camera,
and we could all live
happily ever after
on a page where
the ink is pressed deep
into the words you
are reading now–
words that tell us
how sweet
it was to be alive
in the days of print
and how easy it was
to say sparrow
even in the middle
of winter.

Paper Camera is a history of New Rivers Press, told through the memories of its founder and the people who have worked with the press over the decades from 1968 to 2015.  The editors are Suzzanne Kelley and Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft, and the anthology authors include Alan Davis, Thom Tammaro, Deborah Keenan, David Haynes, Clint McCown, Charles Baxter, and many more, with a contribution of ten previously unpublished poems by Joyce Sutphen.


Amy & Steve to take part in AUTHOR FEST

We are pleased to announce that Amy Phillips and Steven Bolduc, authors of The Prairie Post Office, are invited participants for the AUTHOR FEST, hosted by Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery. If you can be in the Park Rapids, MN, area June 16, 11 – 3, do stop in to join in the fun!

The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota is a 2018 Bronze Award winner for the Independent Publisher Awards and a Finalist in the 28th Annual Midwest Book Awards. In addition to Amy and Steve, Kevin Carvell contributed the history section and Wayne Gudmundson contributed the photographs to this award-winning study.

For the address and details, visit


Summer Hours



We are sorry not to be able to accommodate drop-in customers, authors, and potential authors. I am happy to meet with you by appointment to talk about publishing or to assist you in a purchase. I check my voicemail and emails daily, and I will return your call or an answer to your query as soon as possible. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Queries may be sent and orders may be placed anytime by phone, email, and at our online store. You’ll find all of that information at our Shop Now page.

Thank you,

Suzzanne Kelley, Editor in Chief