The Importance of a Professional ISBN for Self-Publishing Authors
As a self-publishing author, you have a lot on your plate. From writing your manuscript to designing your book cover, there are countless tasks that require your attention. But one key element that should not be overlooked is obtaining an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). While Amazon offers a free ISBN option for authors, it’s important to consider why you may want to invest in a professional ISBN. In this article, we’ll explore five reasons why not to use the free ISBN on Amazon.
Reason 1: Lack of Ownership
An ISBN is a unique identifier that is assigned to a book, allowing it to be properly catalogued and tracked. When you obtain an ISBN, you become the registered owner of that identifier, giving you control over how it’s used and who has access to it.
By using the free ISBN on Amazon, you’re essentially giving up ownership of that identifier, as Amazon becomes the registered owner. This can have long-term implications, as you may not be able to transfer that ISBN to another platform or distributor in the future. Additionally, if you plan to sell any rights to your book, having a free ISBN could complicate matters, as you may not be able to transfer that ISBN to the new owner.
Reason 2: Limited Distribution
ISBNs are used by booksellers and libraries to properly catalogue and stock books. When you use a free ISBN on Amazon, that identifier is only associated with Amazon’s system. This means that your book may not be available in other distribution channels, such as brick-and-mortar bookstores or library databases.
Limited distribution can impact your book’s exposure and sales, as it may not be available to potential readers who prefer to purchase books through other channels. By obtaining a professional ISBN, you can ensure that your book is listed in a wider range of distribution channels, giving it more opportunities for exposure and sales.
Reason 3: Lack of Branding
ISBNs can also be used for branding purposes. When you obtain a professional ISBN, you have the option of using your own imprint or publisher name as the prefix for that identifier. This can help establish your brand and create a professional image for your books.
When you use a free ISBN on Amazon, you’re limited to using Amazon’s imprint name. This means that your book may not be easily distinguishable from other books in the same genre or category, potentially impacting your branding efforts and reputation as an author.
Reason 4: Difficulty with Metadata
Metadata refers to the information associated with a book, such as the title, author name, and genre. This information is used by search engines, booksellers, and other distributors to properly categorize and promote books.
When you use a free ISBN on Amazon, there may be limitations to the metadata you can provide. This can impact your discoverability on Amazon and other distribution channels, potentially limiting your exposure and sales.
Reason 5: Inability to Transfer
As previously mentioned, obtaining a professional ISBN gives you ownership of that identifier. This means that you can transfer that ISBN to another platform or distributor if you choose to do so.
When you use a free ISBN on Amazon, you may not be able to transfer that identifier to another platform or distributor. This can impact your revenue and rights as an author if you decide to sell your book to another platform or distributor in the future.
While using a free ISBN on Amazon may seem like an attractive option for self-publishing authors, it’s important to consider the long-term implications. By investing in a professional ISBN, you can establish ownership of that identifier, expand your distribution channels, establish your brand, provide better metadata, and ensure that you have the ability to transfer that identifier in the future. In short, a professional ISBN can give you the best chance for long-term success in self-publishing.
So, if you’re serious about your self-publishing career, take the time to invest in a professional ISBN today.