Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Self-Publication and the ISBN, ASIN and DOI

Hachette Book Group (2014)
International Standard Book Numbers are more commonly known as ISBNs.

ISBNs provide a reference code for any librarian or researcher to find and order a copy of your work. They are used if you are selling through a retailer, to track your sales, and to order new copies. If you want to publish a book through your own Publication company, you need an ISBN, because each is allocated to a single 'owner' (Friedlander, 17 March 2010; Eckstein, 14 September 2012)

Buying blocks of ISBN numbers is about USD$250 for 10. Not cheap, but not over the top either (Niu, 18 February 2016; Eckstein, 14 September 2012).

Getting an ISBN also tends to indicate a date that your writing becomes officially copyright, though it is creation and publication itself that actually confers that right. The ISBN just provides a legal marker in time for creation, that is used if copyright is contested (Friedlander, 17 March 2010; Eckstein, 14 September 2012).

Kindle eBooks are a bit different. To publish a Kindle title, Amazon says that they don't require an ISBN "to publish content with Kindle Direct Publishing. Once your content is published on the KDP web site, will assign it a 10-digit ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number), which is unique to the eBook, and is an identification number for the Kindle Book on If you already have an ISBN for your eBook, you’ll be able to enter it during the publishing process” (, n.d.). This, I assume is one of the indirect costs that Amazon charge authors for as part of the publication contract.

However, uploading a document to ResearchGate will also get you an ID number. You get an auto DOI number from uploading, which is as useful as an ISBN as a unique ID. This service is free (ResearchGate, n.d.).

A DOI is a digital object identifier, a unique text and number allocated by the International DOI Foundation. It works with websites such as ResearchGate.

Librarians can find your material via a DOI or an ISBN or an ASIN.

I can see the need for harmonisation in the sector, and a new way of doing things, coming soon.



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