Re: [Videolib] ISBN #s
Thu, 23 Mar 2006 00:43:37 -0500

Sorry I realize I am so out of the loop on this I was confusing them
with OCLC numbers or records. We definately don't pay for ISBN numbers in fact
our video dept has never heard of them. I suppose that means our titles do not
have them but I really don't know. It has honestly never come up at all.
I know that various wholesalers buy our stuff and resell it pre-catalogued
but am totally clueless as to if that means that they get them ISBN
numbers or they don't have them.


> Thanks to all who have responded (and to future responders as well!). I'm a
> big fan of ISBNs and have put them on all the work we have
> published/released since 1989 (and retroactively to the ones we produced
> 1986-1988). I have
> every intention of continuing to assign ISBNs to all new releases, but have
> run into a roadblock, as I mentioned. Here is what I have learned so far:
> 1. Bowker is indeed the only agency that can assign ISBNs in the US and
> since it is a monopoly it can and does charge big bucks. (As an aside,
> ISBNs in
> Canada appear to be free.)
> 2. ISBNs have traditionally been 10 digits (as are the ones I currently
> use). As of January of 2007, a new 13-digit ISBN system will go into
> effect. I
> haven't called Bowker back yet, but my hunch is that it's because the entire
> numbering system is being modified that I can't keep my old prefix.
> 3. Because each prefix is a technical number that denotes first of all the
> country of origin and second of all the particular publisher, it's much more
> convenient and less error-prone for a publisher to have the same prefix for
> all titles. (To put this in perspective, the current 10-digit system
> consists
> of 7 digits of prefix and only 3 of suffix that changes with each title.)The
> issue for smaller publishers is that Bowker sells ISBNs in blocks of numbers
> and you can only get a consistent prefix when you purchase that particular
> block; you can't go back and get more numbers for that prefix. The smaller,
> more affordable blocks are much more expensive per number than the larger
> blocks and also involve changing prefixes as time goes by. Larger
> publishers of
> course just purchase an initial block of 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 ISBNs and
> then they have the right to use those numbers, all with the same prefix, far
> into the foreseeable future. (As another aside, I came across a website
> that
> suggested that in the future book and media reviewers will be able to
> discern
> the size of a publishing/media house by its ISBN; as far as I know, that's
> not possible now.)
> 4. The tooth fairy doesn't put ISBNs under your pillow, Jessica. Somebody
> somewhere is in charge of assigning them to your titles. The ones you
> distribute that are produced by others would, of course, come with ISBNs
> already
> assigned (and with a variety of prefixes, one for each publisher). But for
> any
> that Kino actually publishes, someone on your staff (or possibly an outside
> contractor like a copyright/permissions professional or lawyer) assigns the
> So, there you have it. I'll probably bite the bullet and purchase a pricey
> block of ISBNs, but then, I've been in business for 20 years. It does seem
> to me unfortunate that a system is evolving that greatly disadvantages
> startup
> and micro publishers. The ISBN system is fabulous; it's just too bad that
> the US ISBN price system is structured the way it is.
> Many thanks again for this listserv.
> Jocelyn Riley

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