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    « Do You Need an Editor for Your Memoir or Family History? | Main | Family History: What's the Story? »
    Tuesday
    Apr202010

    Do I Need an ISBN or Copyright for My Book?

    First, let’s clarify exactly an ISBN is. An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is the 13 digit number usually accompanied by a bar code on the book’s back cover or the inside front cover of a mass market paperback. R.W. Bowker, the company which serves as the U.S. ISBN Agency says, “The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition allowing more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers, and distributors.” The fee is $275 for 10 ISBNs. (Single ISBNs can be obtained through publishers.) The fee for bar codes is $25 each for 1-5 bar codes and $23 each for 6-10.

    If you seek to sell your book or even if you are considering commercial distribution, you’ll need an ISBN. If you intend only a limited distribution to family and a few friends, you probably won’t need to get one.

    The US Copyright Office defines copyright as “a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution… (it’s) a form of intellectual property law which protects original forms of authorship.” Work is under copyright at the moment it is created. Registration of a copyright is voluntary, but you must register if you bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement. The Copyright Office advises, “Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certification of public record.” Registration within five years of publication is considered prima facie evidence in a court. The basic fee to register a copyright online is $35.

    As with an ISBN your intentions for your book will dictate what you should do. If you work with a commercial publisher or an author service company like iUniverse, Create Space, Author House or XLibris make sure you understand who controls the rights (meaning copyrights) to the book.

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