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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 38 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: What's all this ISBN business?  (Read 1306 times)
Marshall Burns
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Posts: 573

American Wizard


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« on: July 15, 2010, 12:26:24 PM »

Rustbelt inches ever closer to publication, and I've got me a question: what's the deal with ISBN numbers? What are they for? Where do they come from? Why/when should I worry about them, and to what end? Please, somebody enlighten me!

Thanks!
-Marshall
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jrs
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Posts: 377


« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2010, 01:30:29 PM »

Here's the official ISBN site for the United States: http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/index.html. In short, the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) uniquely identifies a book and its publisher. It is the key identifier used by book sellers, book stores, and libraries. If you ever special ordered a book, you probably were asked for an ISBN. You can type an ISBN into pretty much any search box you want, e.g., Amazon, google, worldcat, etc, to locate the matching book.

Julie




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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2010, 03:35:52 AM »

Many hobby game publishers forgo ISBN numbers and barcodes, so it's not unprecedented to do so. This is especially true of the US, where you pay for ISBNs.
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Marshall Burns
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American Wizard


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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2010, 09:00:27 AM »

So, unless I plan to sell it through book stores and/or Amazon, there's no purpose to having one, yes? What about game stores?
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2010, 12:11:41 PM »

The traditional hobby store won't use ISBNs in their stock control, but a more modern boardgame store (actually they're interested in EAN numbers and barcodes, of which ISBN is effectively a subset) or bookstore will. If the store focuses on rpgs in the first place, it's a pretty safe bet that they have the capability to handle your wares without a ISBN, is my experience. Doesn't hurt to have it, of course.
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Nathan P.
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Posts: 590

emotional game design


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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2010, 10:26:59 AM »

Yes, not necessary, but it is a barrier to having a book in a chain bookstore. Most hobby stores don't seem to care (the one I used to work at used publisher stock codes, not ISBNs, which seems pretty standard as far as I know.)

So far I haven't paid for an ISBN, and it hasn't seemed to be a problem (with books going into game stores via Key20 at the time, and now IPR). I would like to get a block of them at some point, just cuz it can't hurt, but cashflow issues!

One thing to watch out for is places that will "give you a free" ISBN (like Createspace, some Lulu options, I think Lightning Source offers this as well) - look at the fine print, but in most cases that means that the ISBN is actually linked to that printer (so it would an ISBN for Createspace book #whatever), not you as a publisher. Which may or may not matter to you, but it is something to keep in mind.

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Nathan P.
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Sebastian K. Hickey
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2010, 06:12:17 AM »

When IPR (Indie Press Revolution) agreed to take on Hell for Leather, I asked them about ISBNs. They told me that it was not necessary, but it was preferred. Again, this is to do with warehouse management, stock control, yadda yadda (on the part of remote retailers, not IPR). If IPR accept your game for distribution, they offer a single ISBN for just $10, which you can convert into a barcode using a web tool. If you're planning on releasing just one or two games, this might be a good way to offset the overheads from the bulk charges for ISBN blocks (they make you buy ten at a time at the official ISBN source).
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2010, 08:55:28 AM »

Hi Marshall,

In the interest of comparison, my experience in 2000-2001 was that game store retailers were very concerned that any game they stocked had an ISBN. I have no idea why, because it's true that every store owner I knew then (a lot) used in-house stickers and codes for accounting. But for some reason involving either fear or group-think or both, they immediately dismissed games which lacked that little code on the back.

I don't know if that trend in expectations has persisted among retailers. The whole retail-side of the hobby went through the all-too-predictable paroxysm around 2004, and most retailers today (survivors and new people) are a lot more down-to-earth and more connected to their customers than they were as a group before that point. Maybe collectively they aren't as uptight about that any more. I've continued to put ISBNs on my books only because I had bought a chunk of codes anyway, and out of continuity. I think I have one left at this point and it might be worth re-investigating store expectations for real before acquiring more.

Best, Ron
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