VoS BtS 8: Registrations and Cataloguing

April 16th, 2015 by Potato

[Back to the first post in the Value of Simple self-publishing behind-the-scenes series]

There are lots of databases that you want to (or must) register your book in.

The most basic one is to get an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) to uniquely identify your book. In the states you have to purchase an ISBN from someone, so you’ll often see a free (but restricted-use) ISBN listed as a feature on some print services, including CreateSpace. For Canadians that doesn’t apply — we can get them for free from Library and Archives Canada/Collections Canada. Once your account is set up, getting an ISBN is instantaneous.

Most retailers are set up to use your ISBN as an identifier in their catalogue, and the standard for the barcodes on the backs of books is to encode the ISBN. So whenever possible, you want to get yourself an ISBN, which is an easy decision as a Canadian because they’re free for us (if you read other guides to self-publishing there will be some hand-wringing on this issue because ISBNs can be costly). For print editions, even if you don’t choose to encode the price in your barcode, include at least the ISBN.

You are supposed to get a different ISBN for every format and edition of your book. So one for print, one for e-book — but then a debate arises: is the Kindle e-book a different format from the ePub e-book? Is the PDF different from both of those? The librarians and cataloguers seem to suggest that yes, you should be getting multiple ISBNs for your e-book, however in practice nearly everyone uses one ISBN for all e-formats (and another for print) because it vastly improves the ability to cross-reference and search for your e-book. I used one ISBN for the ePub and AZW3 versions of the e-book, which are automatic conversions of the same basic format (reflowable XML-based text for e-readers), but considered the PDF versions to be different. However, because the PDF versions are not available except as part of an e-book bundle with the existing ISBN, I did not register for a third/fourth ISBN to cover the PDFs.

Another thing that you can register for through Library and Archives Canada is cataloguing-in-publication (CIP). This service looks at your book’s content and a cataloguer decides on the call number to give it in the Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal systems, and does so before you print the final version (or upload the final e-book). They will give you a block of text to put on the copyright page, in a standard format. Then when your book goes live, booksellers and libraries know just how to classify it, with the information right there at the front. While I’m always in favour of making the librarian’s life easier, CIP is totally voluntary and is not a great marketing tool in its own right; aside from needing some space in your timeline, it’s also not hard to apply for.

I think it’s important to note that CIP took forever. Their website says “at least 10 days” which would lead you to think that it would be close to 10 days but a little more. I planned for up to 20 days, thinking I was being super conservative. In the end I had to submit my proof files to IngramSpark without the CIP information in order to make my timeline (I added it to the front matter along with other changes to the proof before the final print run). CIP finally came after 29 or 30 days (depending on whether you count the day it arrived). Hopefully this post will give people an idea on how long cataloguing-in-publication takes, so you’ll be ready to submit your material to LAC at least a month before you have to submit your book block — though you do need many things like the title page finalized first for CIP.

Another thing to be ready for is the requirement to submit copies of your book to Library and Archives Canada, called legal deposit. For print books, you will have to submit two copies shortly after publication (for publication runs over 100 — and better to assume the over than have to ship a second copy if you go over). They also accept e-books to legal deposit.

When it comes time to create the listing for your book, you will have to choose which categories it belongs to. While retailers have sometimes added sub-categories of their own, they pretty much follow the BISAC categorization scheme and subject codes. Be sure to give yourself some time to consider which BISAC headings your book belongs in — you can usually select up to three.

As a self-publisher, you may also want to register your “imprint” as a business name in your province — for example, I have Blessed by the Potato Publishing registered in Ontario. It costs $60 for a 5-year term in Ontario, and you can do it online in minutes. Unfortunately I can’t comment on the costs or procedures in other provinces.

One Response to “VoS BtS 8: Registrations and Cataloguing”

  1. Melanie Ting Says:

    Thanks a lot for this post, I found it very helpful for all my ISBN questions.