Bowker Partners With Lulu.com
Online independent-publishing marketplace Lulu.com and R.R. Bowker, the U.S. International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) agency, have partnered to provide Lulu.com users with the opportunity to purchase ISBNs for their self-published books. This is the first time that New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker, the sole distributor of ISBNs in the United States, has partnered with a company to offer individual ISBNs. These 13-digit, bar-coded numbers are used by publishers and retailers to facilitate the sale and distribution of books.
Lulu.com, with headquarters in Morrisville, N.C., is offering the ISBNs for $50 per number through its “Published By You” distribution service, which allows authors to publish and sell their own works while retaining editorial and copyright control. Now, authors also can register to be listed as the official publisher of their work by purchasing an individual ISBN. Lulu.com then creates the listing for all major bibliographic feeds worldwide, providing access to booksellers.
“This is a fantastic, neat, innovative service in a stodgy old book business,” says Andrew Pate, Lulu’s vice president of distribution, who notes that the Web site offers over 4,000 new titles a week. “The main focus of self-publishing is to empower the creator. This [ISBN] service empowers the creator to access retailers, wholesalers, Google Book Search ... all based on the ISBN.”
“Authors who are publishing their own work may not be aware of all that goes into publishing,” says Annie M. Callanan, R.R. Bowker president and CEO. “Obtaining an ISBN is just one small step. By simplifying the process, we can assist authors in getting their publications to the public more quickly, benefiting both the reader and author.”
According to Pate, Lulu.com and Bowker had been working together since October to automate this new ISBN process. “Maintaining Bowker’s integrity [was] of the utmost importance,” he says.
“I applaud the management of Bowker for embracing the future and embracing change,” continues Pate, “and recognizing the importance of this movement” toward self-publishing.
Lulu.com’s Published By You service is offered to users located in the United States and its territories, as well as Germany and The Netherlands. According to Pate, Lulu.com’s primary goal is to expand the service into more countries, and the company currently is in talks with the London-based International ISBN Agency on a partnership similar to the one with Bowker.
“I think [offering individual ISBNs to authors] is an important piece [of self-publishing],” says Pate. “The ISBN has worked well and served the industry for years. ... Now we’ve made it relevant to new models of publishing. The ISBN fuels and drives everyone along the supply chain. ... We’re taking what works in [traditional publishing] and using it in these new models.”