Use Your Own ISBN
Treating your writing and publishing as a business includes making sure you have complete control over your intellectual property. One way to do this is to purchase and use your own ISBNs for your books. This establishes YOU as the publisher.
When you use a “free” ISBN from Amazon, Draft2Digital, or IngramSpark, your book is now linked to them as the publishers. They are NOT publishers!! They are distributors and for print books, printers. In essence, they have adopted your baby and are now its parents, not you. An ISBN is like a social security number for your book. It identifies the book, the publication date, and the publisher. When a bookstore or library looks up the ISBN for your book to purchase it, the information will show the publisher, which you want to be your publishing company.
When you use an ISBN that you own, you have the freedom and control over deciding where you distribute your book, who you use to print it. If you’ve used a KDP Print ISBN, you can’t use that same number to print your book with IngramSpark, and vice versa. With your own ISBN, you can use both, or even choose to print using an offset printer.
If you’re in the US, the ONLY legal place to purchase ISBNs if from Bowker. If you live outside the US, check with your country and how to obtain ISBNs. Many countries offer them for free. In the US they can be expensive, especially if you buy a single one or the package of 10. It’s much more economical to purchase the pack of 100. That may sound like a lot, but believe me, if you publish more than a few books, you’ll use these!
This is a step that’s much easier to initiate at the beginning of your writing business than waiting to do. ISBNs can’t be transferred. If you’ve used a free ISBN, but now want to use your own to take control of your intellectual property, you’ll have to issue a new edition of your book. This can be a pain to do, especially to move any accumulated reviews on the distribution sites to the new edition.
Purchase, or obtain, a block of ISBNs for your publishing company. Save up to purchase the 100 ISBN package from Bowker, if you need to. If you’ve used the free ISBNs, consider publishing a new edition of your books using your OWN ISBN.