You can now buy a single ISBN directly from Bowker, in your own name. That is, you are not conspiring with the owner of a block of ISBNs to illegally sell you one, and you are not stuck with some vanity press being the publisher of record of your book.
The bad news is that a single ISBN costs $125, compared to $275 for a block of ten. Still, if you’re not planning on publishing more than two books for the rest of your life, this is a pretty good deal.
According to the isbn.org site, the way to obtain your single ISBN is to send an email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my current clients is someone who is never going to publish a second book. So he’s a great candidate for this service. Consequently, I wrote to the address above a couple of days ago, and I just received a response. I can confirm the following details:
- This service is so new that Bowker does not have any way to apply online. Instead they will send you a Word document to print out and complete by hand, then fax or mail to them.
- After you get your ISBN, you still need to set up and pay for a Bowker account so that you can enter the Books In Print record for your book. But you’d have had to do that anyway.
The person who responded to my email was someone I met in the Bowker booth at BEA. At that time, I whined to her that I’d received a renewal notice for a Bowker account, but the notice had given no indication of which of my clients’ accounts was expiring. I also suggested that there should be a way for someone like me to have a single login account with Bowker and then be able to click through to any of my clients’ accounts, rather than have to have separate logins and passwords for each of them.
In her email today, she told me that as a result of our conversation, they are going to implement such a system and they should be ready to announce it by the end of 2007, along with online application for single ISBNs.