The numbers game, playing the numbers game, statistics, data analysis, all numbers to be juggled in the process of getting the book out there, and in the middle of it all a fixed number, as immutable as if carved in stone. Our book's identity in a 13 digit code.
A humble stock control number, the SBN, developed for WH Smith Limited and others in the mid-1960s by Gordon Foster, Emeritus Professor of Statistics at Trinity College, Dublin. The system was adopted by the International Standard for Organisation (ISO) in 1970 as a 10 digit number (the original 9 digit number was used in the UK until 1974 and could be converted to 10 by adding '0'), the 10 digit iSBN was replaced on the 1st January 2007 by the 13 digit sequence to make it compatible with the European Article Number (EAN).
Unique to each edition or variation of a publication; paperback, hardback and ebook all possess a separate individual code, later editions may share an ISBN.
The ISBN is the key to distribution, it allows an edition to be located, ordered and shipped, ISBNs are issued through specific agencies; in the UK ISBNs are provided by Neilsen Book and Bowker carries the same responsibility for the US.
Books sold through Kindle and Amazon display an ASIN, (Amazon Standard Identification Number) having an ISBN is not a requirement; where a book has an ISBN the 13 digits will be the same,the ISBN becomes the ASIN, other companies may supply an ISBN as part of the agreement. Smashwords offers this to all authors who distribte through the company, and it is a prerequisite for inclusion on some of the channels that Smashwords distributes to. Generally, for any book to be fed into the distribution system then an ISBN is a must.
A note about the ISBN at Smashwords; Smashwords is a ebook distributor, not a publisher, however because the ISBN is obtained through them and they have purchased it from Bowker, Smashwords is listed as the publisher with Bowker in the US. A technical point which is explained in their agreement with you. Smashwords recognise you, the author of the work as the publisher.
What are the options for digital formatting and distribution?
The ebook can be formatted and uploaded to individual ebook suppliers following their own instructions and requirements, or an aggregator can be used.
Amazon, with the Kindle can reach wherever Amazon goes and the book ordered from the Kindle bookstore, there are occasions when a book ordered through Kindle cannot be downloaded because of territorial restrictions. Certain books may be available in the US and Canada, but not the UK and Ireland, depending on where the Kindle was registered.
Instructions on to get the book on Amazon can be found at Kindle Direct publishing and the instructions to help you are in How to publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing and the software for device compatible Kindle can be downloaded, so you can check out the end result.
Smashwords works through its own site and by feeding books selected for the premium catalogue to a list of ebook retailers; Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Overdive, Flipkart, Oyster and Scribd are on the list. Smashwords has its own criteria explained in the Smashwords Style guide. Both available as free downloads.
Fomatting KDP and Smashwords takes a couple of hours, and you must follow the instructions, don't be tempted to skip forward or miss anything out and the end result will be a file ready to upload; Kindle requires a filtered HTML and Smashwords asks for a cleaned up MS word Doc.file (Not a Docx.).
Once uploaded Smashwords feed the doc file into their Meatgrinder and formatted files for most common e-readers come out the other end and the book can be ready to purchase on the site within half an hour of upload. Kindle takes longer, but you can expect the book to be on Amazon within twenty fours hours.
So the book is out there, jostling for position with its own ISBN, waiting for the reader, hungry for entertainment...and the downloads begin...