Do We Need Separate ISBNs per E-book per Format per Region?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka


By Edward Nawotka

In today’s lead story Liz Bury considers the state of the ISBN debate as regards to the proliferation of e-books in various formats. The debate going on is whether or not it is necessary to issue separate ISBNs for each e-book in each format. More ISBNs mean better analytics on the retail end, but require added logistics. What’s more, there have been suggestions that e-books sold in different regions each need their own ISBNs, and if this happens, could it to the possibility of issuing individual ISBNs for each format in each region?  The result would likely be an exponential growth in the number of ISBNs issued. The outcome would be very granular sales data. Better data can lead to many things, such as better control over distribution, more precise marketing, even in the right hands, better ability to combat pirates.

Suddenly, the 13-digit ISBN doesn’t look like so much trouble after all.

So, the question is this: Is the trouble of separate ISBNs per book, per format, per region necessary?  Is the trouble of implementation worth the upside?

Let us know what you think in the comments below or via Twitter using #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.