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Speaking of silly stuff…


I need to be working on a Super Secret Project right now. Instead I’m laughing and poking at online behemoths.

Seriously, I need to get a life. But we all know I won’t, because I just really enjoy this sort of thing. Okay, details follow.

You may (if you were bored then and now) recall that the other day I had issues using the self-publishing web apps at Amazon, B&N, and Google. Well…

  • the Amazon issue may have resolved itself (an error message finally appeared after about 40 hours). Their customer support kept closing tickets and telling me the problem didn’t exist, then finally said they’d look into it…which was several days ago. I’ve heard nothing since. But I don’t really care.
  • B&N still doesn’t allow me to update my book. Though they may have actually done it behind the scenes. I could find out by either buying a copy or browsing through their online previewer…one page at a time, to check a link at the end. But I think I’ll just leave them alone instead. As far as I can tell they don’t give substantive answers via email either. A policy, maybe.
  • Google emailed me to say they couldn’t verify my copyrights. Well, of course they couldn’t–and I hadn’t asked them to. But they wanted me to fill out (another) form. Which I could have done to start with, if they’d mentioned it. You know, like last week? Plus, since the only indication I had of a problem was that I would upload books & they’d disappear, there are now multiple copies in my account. And no obvious way to delete them. (I tried the options available…made no difference.)

As a result of the above, I decided the heck with it. Google’s web app clearly seems to be designed to prefer an ISBN.  But ISBNs are expensive in the US (free in Canada though…hmm). And of course the people who sell them (Bowker) say it’s best to purchase a separate ISBN for each format of a book. Not just print and digital…they mean epub, lrf, txt, mobi, azw, pdf, xyz, whatever. Kind of expensive, at $125 a pop. Though you can get 10 for $250, which is what I was going to do.

But guess what? Bowker’s online checkout process has been broken for the last two days. So I can’t buy ISBNs.

Okay, full disclosure: I didn’t really want to buy them. ISBNs are not necessary for indie publishing. Some retailers require them, but my stuff is getting to those guys via Smashwords anyway–and they gave me a free ISBN for the Smashwords editions of my books. Which means Smashwords is “registered” as the publisher. I gotta say: I don’t especially care.

Hey, Bowker et al: I can make a database too. How much will you care if I say you have to pay me to register your companies in it? So turn it around…same answer. Got it?

In theory, buying an ISBN means I get myself (or Cabin Fever Press…same thing) “registered” as the publisher. Which in theory would let a complete idiot who can’t google my name or follow links in my books find me if he or she wants to buy something…foreign rights, movie rights, thousands of print copies, or whatever.

How much is that worth to me, really? Pretty much nothing.

But what the heck. I decided I’d shell out $250 to use one ISBN per book, for all electronic formats (because Bowker doesn’t actually get to decide how I use them) just in case tying the various retail versions together (or most of them) is helpful someday. It’s not something I feel compelled to do…but I thought I’d give it a shot.

Too bad I can’t buy ’em. And Bowker people don’t answer their email either, or at least not within 24 hours. For these prices, you’d think they could at least afford an autoresponder that gives an estimate of when they’ll get back to me.


Your day may now continue.



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