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

 

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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