From the ISBN team

FAQs with the ISBN team

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Have an ISBN question? The Australian ISBN agency is staffed by Maria and Ruth, two long-serving members of the Identifier Services team with a wealth of experience between them, who field questions from authors and publishers of all sizes every day. Here, they have compiled the answers to some frequently asked questions. You can also visit the MyIdentifiers website or phone (03) 8517-8349 for more information. 

Who should apply for an ISBN?

It is always the publisher of the book who should apply for the ISBN. For the purposes of ISBN, the publisher is the group, organisation, company or individual who is responsible for initiating the production of a publication. Normally, it is also the person or body who bears the cost and financial risk in making a book publication available. It is not usually the printer, but it can be the author of the book if the author has chosen to publish their book themselves (i.e. a self-publisher).

Do I need an ABN to register as a self-publisher and purchase ISBNs?

Initially, to purchase ISBNs on the MyIdentifiers website you do not require an ABN (Australian Business Number). If you are directly engaged in providing a product or service to someone, however, you are required to have an ABN and register for GST. With an ABN you will be able to claim expenses related to your self-publishing business, like stationery or a percentage of your power and data bill. Also, as part of your tax return, you will need to specify any income associated with royalties from book publications. These are things to consider when weighing up the need for an ABN.

The Australian Business Register website covers the basics of what the requirements are for an ABN. It may also be a good idea to talk to your accountant about the need for an ABN.

I’ve entered my title details on the MyIdentifiers website, so why doesn’t my title appear when I Google search using my ISBN?

Once your title has been successfully uploaded onto Books in Print it can take up to six weeks for it to appear on Google. When searching on Google, use your 13 digit ISBN and don’t use dashes or spaces—use numbers only.

By doing an ISBN search on Bookwire you will be able to see how your title appears to booksellers using the Books in Print database. Adding a JPG cover image and descriptive blurb to your title record will enhance your metadata (title detail).

Have you legally deposited your publication at the National Library and your State Library? Make sure you have obtained an online library catalogue entry with the National Library of Australia’s services for publishers

The other bibliographic database used in Australia is Nielsen BookScan, so be sure to report your title there also.

Where do I obtain an ISMN (Music Number)? 

The national ISMN agency of your country will provide you with an International Standard Music Number for your publication. The Australian ISMN agency is run by the National Library of Australia. The local ISMN representative will give you further information about the procedure of the ISMN assignment.

The ISMN and ISBN are separate numbering systems; ISBN is the International Standard Book Number which identifies text-based publications and ISMN is the International Standard Music Number which identifies notated music publications. They are also distinguished from each other through different specialisations, different supply and distribution channels, access to global markets, hiring and ordering processes and global directories.

The cost of obtaining an ISMN varies from country to country. You will need to contact your national agency for exact fees.

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