More & more discussion is being had on twitter, websites, blogs, and pretty much any place talking about eBooks and ISBNs. You know ISBNs, the numbers on the back of the book, now on the inside of an eBook in the front matter; or whatever you call the area you place it. The biggest question comes as; How many isbns does a book need? Good question, answer, who the hell knows anymore. The problem or proverbial monkey wrench in the eBook and isbn discussion comes in the form of distributors.
Now don’t get crazy, I’m not bashing them. The problem is that everyone wants to sell the eBooks and they all want to do it differently. This one wants to sell it in ePub format and they made add some DRM. (digital rights management) This other one wants to sell it and no DRM, but not in ePub, they have their own format. You can see where I am going, does your head hurt yet because I know mine does. I’ve talked with many people about this conundrum, (if I used that word correctly, I’m smiling), anyways, those I have spoke with have vented the same frustration. The funny thing is, everyone just seems to accept it, that’s the way it is and we have to go with it.
Why? Why not let the publishers and authors decide if they want DRM or not? Why not say hey, ePub is the standard, whether you like it or not right now, it’s better then having a dozen formats; one for each reader/software? Why not say we have to find a better way to work with isbns and google, amazon, apple and everyone need to jump on board and realize they are making it harder right now for publishers and authors to move to eBooks. Think about it, you could have a book with 12-15 isbns; 12-15, come on, that’s nuts, 3-4 good reasons to have separate, e.g. audio, hardcover, paperback (2 sizes mass and trade). Then you have eBook, because of the readers, not the content itself, but the readers software, by best practice you should have a new isbn for each readers format.. Yep, every different reader, new isbn, people ask why the cost of eBooks aren’t much cheaper, conversion of the ePub to other formats and purchasing a new isbn for each format and then submitting and tweaking for each reader.
This isn’t a rant, but more of a take a hard look at the problem above and then ask, will google and many others that enter that require a new isbn for every format going to help or cause more confusion? It’s hard to say right now, but I don’t see things getting easier, in fact they will continue to cause headaches and be more frustrating… then again, it is fun to create them and that is part of the challenge, but for all the supposed ease that was too come from other aggregators, I’m not seeing it right now. The biggest question you will be faced with, which platform do we publish for and how many isbns do we want to invest in this eBook?