Let’s start with definitions, shall we?
An International Standard Book Number ( ISBN), per isbn-international.org, is “a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format.”
A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), says the Library of Congress, is “a unique identification number the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. Librarians use it to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record in the national databases and to order catalog cards from the Library of Congress or from commercial suppliers.”
But where do I obtain an ISBN?
Quick answer: Your print-on-demand publisher (e.g. KDP/Amazon, etc.) or through Bowker’s MyIdentifiers.com, depending on what you want to do…
Anyone who uses the free ISBN from KDP wants to only sell books and buy author copies through KDP/Amazon. It allows you to be in Amazon’s expanded distribution system, which puts you in the computer system of Barnes & Noble and other select bookstores and libraries. Not on the shelves, but in their systems in case readers want to order your book .
Anyone who purchases their own ISBNs through Bowker typically wants to:
• Buy books locally (faster, with more quality control). These days, it’s taking weeks to get printed books through KDP. I’ve always been personally satisfied with KDP printing, but some of my authors have had issues.
• Sell ebooks on other e-reader platforms like Smashwords, Apple Books, Kobo…
• Publish through IngramSpark (IS) to have their books listed in their distribution catalog. This is a pretty good reason to get an ISBN specific to IS.
Bowker ISBNs cost $125 for one and $295 for ten. Since every format of a books needs a uniques ISBN, I always suggest buying the package.
[Side note: I’ve done both KDP and Bowker ISBNs in the past, but am leaning toward definitely buying a Bowker ISBN to use with IS in the future.]
And how about that LCCN?
Formerly called a Preassigned Control Number (PCN), the LCCN allows your book to be purchased by and/or donated to a library, because the Library of Congress (LOC) can easily catalog it.
It takes less than five days to obtain a LCCN, often the next-day. You first need to set up an account at the LOC, then fill out an application for a single book’s LCCN.
My thought is, why not? It can only help, and doesn’t cost anything or take much effort to secure.
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish
P.S. Learn more about my novels on my Amazon Author Central page.
Find me elsewhere online.