View Full Version : couldn't P.O.D. authors band to purchase ISBN's ?

05-12-2006, 07:13 PM
Couldn't some P.O.D. authors band together if they wanted to purchase a block of ISBN numbers and then go directly through LSI, lightning source...to print.

Evidently this is what lulu.com does already, they purchase the numbers in blocks and then use lightning source, but the books are marked up according to information someone else posted...marked up pretty significantly from what was given by way of example.

just a thought, since Lightning Source gives the author that ability on their site.

This might allow P.O.D. author to market his book at a significantly lower price, possibly gaining more sales in the process?

experts please chime in with your knowledge.

Rev. James

05-12-2006, 07:24 PM
I did a single-copy "print run" of a book on lulu. $12.30 for a trade paperback, with no markup. I'm sure lulu marks up the base price a little to make their own profit, but that didn't strike me as unreasonable for a trade paperback book. Actually, I thought it was a little lower than the average.

The trade paperback of Goblin Quest, for instance, is selling for $13.95. And don't get me started on the markup you see from Publish America and the like.

Cathy C
05-12-2006, 08:46 PM
Couldn't some P.O.D. authors band together if they wanted to purchase a block of ISBN numbers and then go directly through LSI, lightning source...to print.

No. At least not in the way you're thinking, and here's why. An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a group of numbers that actually have meaning. One is to give the publisher a unique number to identify it to the exclusion of all other publishers. I've posted an article about this elsewhere on this forum, but can't find it immediately, so here's a bit of the article I wrote that discusses it:


The structure of the ISBN is quite simple. The ten digits are separated into four parts of variable length, which must be separated by spaces or dashes. For example: 0-765-34913-2 OR 0 765 34913 2. The first number (in this example "zero") is the Group Identifier. The number shown identifies one of the primary English-speaking countries (U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada). The English-speaking countries of South Africa and Zimbabwe use a "1" in place of the zero. It should be noted that due to the influx of small press, POD and internet publishers that hit the scene in the 1990s, the International ISBN Agency began assigning the Group Identifier "1" to newer English-speaking publishers, regardless of their country of origin. Here are a few of the many codes assigned, which allow the reader to know in what country the book originated:

0 - English (UK, US, Can, Aus, NZ)

1 - English (SA, Zim)

2 - French (France, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland)

3 - German (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)

4 - Japan

5 - USSR

6 - Unassigned at present

7 - China

The next series of numbers (in this example "765") is the Publisher Identifier. Each publisher in the world, including each separate official address of a multi-national publisher, has a unique number assigned to it that tells the world the producer of the book. The publisher identifier may have up to seven digits.

The third series of numbers (in this example "34913") is the Title Identifier. Each title issued by a publisher has a unique number that may have up to six digits. No Title Identifier may be reassigned by the publisher at any time. If a volume is discontinued or switches publishers, the number is discontinued. The number must remain with the book forever, even if a publisher purchases another publisher, until the book is reprinted under the new company's imprint.

The final number is what is known as a Check Digit. This is a "safety" number that ensures that the ISBN is an actual number produced by a publisher (to help prevent black market books). Because the original purpose of the ISBN was to be computer friendly, the numbers work off a system of eleven. What this means is that if you add the previous numbers, after being multiplied by a number ranging from 10 to 2, into a single sum, the total must be divisible by 11. So, in our example:

ISBN 0 7 6 5 3 4 9 1 3

Weight 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Totals 0 +63 +48 +35 +18 +20 +36 +3 +6 = 229

229 can't be divided by 11. However, 231 can be. Therefore, the check digit of "2" is added, for a total of 231. Because it's divisible by 11, it proves that the number is a valid ISBN.


Now, in addition to that, each book must have a different number for each FORMAT the book appears in (hardback, trade, paperback, audio, ebook, etc.) So, even if ten authors paid money, only ONE author (let's say "Joe Smith") can fill out the application. That one person would "become" the publisher as far as RR Bowker and the Library of Congress are concerned. The other authors can purchase a number to their heart's content, but they'll forever be an author under the "Joe Smith publishing company."

Does that make sense?

05-12-2006, 08:57 PM
Thanks Cathy,

I think that makes perfect sense...very informative!

Rev. James