October 9, 2013 Last Updated 5:19 pm

Bowker says analysis of ISBN numbers shows self-publishing jumped 59% last year

“The most successful self-publishers don’t view themselves as writers only, but as business owners.”

The company most people associate with ISBN numbers, Bowker, said that an analysis of U.S. ISBN data shows that the number of self-published titles in 2012 increased 59 percent over 2011 to more than 391,000 – and 422 percent over 2007. The analysis was done by the company’s affiliate ProQuest.

“The most successful self-publishers don’t view themselves as writers only, but as business owners,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker Director of Identifier Services, in the company’s press release. “They invest in their businesses, hiring experts to fill skill gaps and that’s building a thriving new service infrastructure in publishing.”

OnePersonRally-164A huge portion of the ISBN numbers, over 80 percent, came from eight companies, with Bowker citing Smashwords and CreateSpace.

I’m sure their data is correct, but it may actually underestimate the growth of self-publishing. While Apple requires an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to publish an eBook inside its iBooks Store, Amazon does not – neither does Blurb.com for its print and eBooks.

In fact, there is a rather lively discussion online right now about the value and necessity of having an ISBN number. For many, they are an expensive luxury, and smack a bit of a shakedown of self and small publishers.

It won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the first thing on Bowker’s “to do list” for self-publishers is the purchase of an ISBN number. A single ISBN number costs $125 (or about 100 percent of some eBooks sales!). The cost goes all the way down to $1 a piece, but only if you agree to buy 1000 at a time.

  • […] It won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the first thing on Bowker’s “to do list” for self-publishers is the purchase of an ISBN number. A single ISBN number costs $125 (or about 100 percent of some eBooks sales!). The cost goes all the way down to $1 a piece, but only if you agree to buy 1000 at a time. (See More) […]

  • […] Bowker says analysis of ISBN numbers shows self-publishing jumped 59% last … “The most successful self-publishers don't view themselves as writers only, but as business owners.” The company most people associate with ISBN numbers, Bowker, said that an analysis of U.S. ISBN data shows that the number of self-published titles in … Read more on Talking New Media […]

  • […] Analysis of ISBN numbers shows self-publishing jumped 59% last year Some interesting data from ISBN marketplace Bowkers surrounding the ever growing marketplace of indie publishing. Almost 60% is an enormous leap forward. […]

  • Lorraine Pestell 1 year ago

    As a recently self-published author with an IT background, I am frustrated with the ISBN concept not keeing up with the changes in the publishing industry. I purchased ISBN numbers from Bowker for my six-part series multiplied by the number of formats (softcover, .PDF, .epub and Kindle) for sale via my website. Xlibris, my offshore publisher, allocated another ISBN again, which means it’s going to be nigh on impossible to aggregate the sales of my novels. Any ideas, anyone, please?!

    • D.B. Hebbard 1 year ago

      I would recommend only using ISBN numbers were you absolutely need to – Apple, for instance, or when you have a print version circulating in physical bookstores. Where you don’t need them, don’t use them (PDF, Kindle).