International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
The ISBN is the worldwide way to track and keep information on every book in publication. The barcode on the back of a book, when read by a laser, contains that book's ISBN. Each edition of a book has to have its own ISBN as well as the audiobook version. There is some leeway on this when it comes to ebooks, but some distributors, such as Smashwords, still require an ebook to have an ISBN. Whether or not you will need an ISBN for your ebook depends on where you want to publish. In any case, you will definitely need one for your paperback edition.
In the United States, the only official ISBN selling agency is Bowker (in the UK it is Nielsen). However, buying a single ISBN from them can start around $250. That's a lot of money just to meet the needs of the book world's bureaucracy by having 13 little numbers. Publishers, on the other hand, can buy for less since they can buy in bulk, and services like Create Space will then resell them to authors at a reduced price (in Create Space's case, $10). We can provide them to you for $5. What is more, for only $20 we will also register the information about the book on Bowker. For our British users, we will also charge $20 for this service with Nielsen. Many services such as Google books and Ingram can use this information to populate their listing and metadata of your book, and buyers can also have an easier time finding where the book is distributed. Most other ISBN resellers will not do this, and under them, your ISBN will not be associated with any particular information about your book.
ISBNs bought from us will be listed under the "Independent Author" imprint. We can deliver ISBNs within 24 hours, and can accomplish registrations within the week.
Q) What rights do I give your company regarding my book?
A) We have no rights to your book. We are listed as the publisher only because we hold the ISBN, we have signed no contract with you and have no rights. You are free to use the ISBN with your book or to acquire another ISBN elsewhere for the same book and call it a different edition.
Q) What happens if an order is received, e.g. how am I informed, who pays and receives funds, and who sends the book?
A) We only made the data available publicly for low cost. The sales funnel and the distributors you contract with and how they notify you is entirely your decision. However, bookstores and distributors will now be able to access your metadata now due to our service, and when stores and distributors ask for the ISBN you will be able to tell them and progress through their processes. If you contract with any distributor, just let us know and we will update the metadata. If it occurs that an interested party contacts us about your book (which seldom if ever happens, as people do not purchase based solely on metadata, but upon your successful marketing efforts) we will put them in contact with you.