Many successful indie authors do not use ISBNs (for their e-books), and they see no reason why they should. The number Amazon provides works just fine from a practical standpoint.
Having said that, an ISBN gives your book added credibility and has more universal recognition than an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) when searching for a book by number. So I opt for an ISBN.
However, buying an ISBN costs money. In the United States, buy ISBNs from Bowker. Currently, the standard price for one ISBN is $125, ten costs $295, and one hundred costs $575.
Note that you will need one ISBN for each format your book is in: Hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audio, so that’s four ISBNs. Given the costs, I see why many indie-published authors skip them.
Four years ago, my mom found an old book in her basement. My great grandfather’s name was written on the inside cover, along with his address in Chicago. The book was published in 1914. Yes, that’s right, 1914—over one hundred years ago. That’s a long-lasting book.
My mom had never seen the book before. We don’t know why my father kept it, or the motivation of his mother before him. Yet we have the writing of J Hudson Taylor (a missionary to China, if you’re interested) passed down as a family heirloom.
The book, by the way, is Union and Communion. Amazingly, it’s available today from Amazon as a Kindle download or used paperback. The copy I have is a third edition hardcover (the only option back then). But today, Amazon shows various formats and covers.
Write Long-Lasting Books
This begs a thought-provoking question: How long will our writing last? Will the book we write today be around in one hundred years? Will we writing long-lasting books?
I think every writer hopes their work will outlive them. I know I do. That’s why we need to make the words we write today count, words that will last, words that will inspire future generations.
Then maybe, in one hundred years, people will still be talking about, selling, and reading our books, out long-lasting books.
One day I blogged about a book I really enjoyed. To my complete shock, the author commented on my post. She thanked me profusely for my kind words, added to the discussion, and then mentioned her upcoming book. I was smitten.
Neither author knew I existed before I posted about their book. So how did they find my comments? Though I don’t know for sure, I suspect they used Google Alerts.
Google Alerts is a free service that emails users whenever a particular phrase appears online. I recommend all authors set up a Google Alert for their name and book titles. Google will then send an email alert whenever someone uses one of those phrases online.
Then, when it’s appropriate, we can respond to comments about us or our books. The important thing is to be respectful. Thank them; be kind. The goal is to form a positive impression with them and others reading our response.
Of course, not everything written about us or our books is positive. Resist the urge to respond to negativity; it will never go well. We must not attempt to defend ourselves. (Let others do that.) Although hurtful, we need to develop a thick skin and learn to ignore the barbs of others. To help deal with online criticism, remember the adage, “The only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity.”
But don’t focus on the negative. The goal is to add to the online discussion about us and our books, garnering followers and fans.
It only takes a couple of minutes to set up a Google Alert. Do it today.
As March wound down, news surfaced of Amazon buying Goodreads. The announcement shocked me. Fearing the unknown, I mourned for what assuredly would be lost. Not so fast. Is Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads really a bad development? Here are four points of view:
Amazon’s Perspective: From a business standpoint, this is a great move by Amazon. The world’s largest online retailer started with and built its reputation on books. Goodreads focuses on books, celebrating them and serving as a haven for those who love to read. This is a wise move and smart investment for Amazon.
Booklovers’ Perspective: Amazon is a business with a profit motive; books are secondary. Goodreads puts books first, aiding in their discovery and offering a place for booklovers to connect. Proponents who embrace Goodreads as an egalitarian community of knowledge and sharing, fear its corruption by a profit-motivated owner. They cite accounts of Amazon summarily removing reader reviews from their website without warning and with no justification.
Publisher’s Perspective: People who produce and sell books need to promote them, with both Amazon and Goodreads being two places to do so. Few publishers can survive without Amazon but many worry about the juggernaut’s commanding power and ability to unilaterally dictate terms. It’s a love-hate relationship. Publishers worry Goodreads will be sucked into this, no longer providing an autonomous promotion platform.
My Perspective: Amazon also owns the popular movie resource IMDB, which continues to operate without interference from its parent. Amazon didn’t corrupt IMDB and I expect the same outcome for Goodreads.
The November 23 edition of “On the Media” (Publishing: Adapt or Die) focused on recent developments and trends within the publishing industry. (It was an update of coverage from April 2012, so some portions were a repeat).
There is a buzz today about Amazon’s new Kindle Fire, a tablet intended to compete with Apple’s iPad. I first heard the announcement on the radio this morning while munching my breakfast—and I have already received three press releases about it.
Apple reportedly sells 7 out of every 10 tablets, with more than one competitive product left floundering—or having drowned—in its wake. Amazon’s Kindle Fire is competitively required to protect Amazon’s Kindle-loyal readers and all the books that they consume. Karl Volkman, of Chicago-based SRV Network, Inc., notes that Amazon’s foray may be successful because:
The Kindle Fire costs far less than Apple’s iPad 2.
The Kindle Fire will run a revved-up version of Google’s Android software, an operating system that has given Mac’s iOS software a run for its money on smart-phones.
Kindle’s existing momentum as a more popular alternative for reading books than the iPad.
What does this mean? There is now one more device for publishers to work with and more device for people to consider, with the e-reader/tablet market becoming more congested before it becomes clearer. The result is that publishers—and consumers—who pick the wrong device will be left with old hardware they can’t use and books that they can’t read. (How many audio cassettes, video disks, and VHS videotapes do you have laying around?)