Letters To The Editor For September 3rd

The Amazon/BookSurge Anti-Trust Lawsuit


I just read your column concerning the Amazon/Booksurge outrageous ultimatum. Thank God for intelligent and independent cusses like you!

I recently had a fellow author tell me it was the only smart thing to do, now that Amazon has put us all in a bind, to go with Booksurge as my POD! But after reading your comments on Writers Weekly.com, as soon as I get the &!$@@?*&! formatting done on my book, I’m sending it to you to print, and Amazon be damned!

S. in Ashland

Bowker Isn’t Happy with Angela’s ISBN Article


I am more of a verbal person (left brain), I think, than visual (right brain), but every once in a while the words that I read evoke powerful visual images.

Thus it was with Mr. Weissberg’s response to you. I immediately was overcome by the image of a very hot frying pan, into which lard has just been dropped. I see the sputtering product sizzling, and flying all over the place, as it tries to escape the heat.

Messy, perhaps, but that’s how it struck me.

Keep the flame up–but wear a great apron!



ISBNs in Canada AND Africa are FREE!

Hi Angela,

ISBNs are FREE in South Africa, too.


Stevie Godson


I’m very blessed to not have to pay for an ISBN or a CIP number in Canada. Our system was changed last August and allows the publisher to log online to update and change information plus add new releases, while being able to update the status of each release. The only approval one goes through for ISBN now, is to apply as a publisher, and that usually takes a couple of days. Once you receive a user login, the rest is up to you. Getting an ISBN is instant. It’s a great system and requires little manpower for the ISBN office administration.

So why is the American system so complicated? Is Bowker a branch of the government or is it a private business? In Canada, it’s government issued.

However, I do have some serious red flags up when you mentioned that Bowker has been promoting Lulu on its site. That IS a conflict of interest. I’ve seen some of the Lulu books and they LOOK self-published.

And for the record, I am not a POD but offer pure self-publishing help. Most of the people who come to me are time-stressed professionals who use their books to market their business and need a lap to dump their manuscripts in. The author/publisher controls and owns everything 100 percent. I’ve worked with many authors in getting their books to print and apply for ISBNs and CIPs on THEIR behalf in Canada.

Having a couple of U.S. authors now, I’m not getting any response from Bowker as to whether I can do the same for them. Unfortunately, because of their uncooperation, these time-stressed people will have to do their own applications.

I also do not agree in buying ISBNs and then reselling them, which Lulu and other PODs do even for their Canadian authors — where ISBNs are free.

But it is fascinating the difference between countries — especially since the ISBN is a universally global number.

Debbie Elicksen
Canada’s Publishing Expert
Freelance Communications
Supporting Member of Association of Canadian Publishers
Member of Canadian Association of Journalists
Supplier Member of Canadian Association of Professional Speakers
Professional Sports Writer

Bowker Needs to Justify Their High ISBN Prices!

Hi Angela,

I just got to reading the newsletter today, so you’ve probably already had this response, but I’d really like to hear a justification from Bowker for their price structure. I’m also wondering if in the other places, they are provided as a service through a governmental or similar entity, rather than through a regular for-profit business.

Also, considering the exchanges you’ve had with Bowker thus far, this question should really get em’ going.

Have a super holiday!

Good Writing & God Bless,

Cheryl Pickett

We invite Bowker to respond, explaining why their prices for ISBNs are so high. However, Bowker simply stopped responding to our emails last week…so we won’t hold our breath.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

The British chap is confusing the per ISBN cost for a block of ten with the cost of buying a single ISBN.

Buying ten in the USA at $225 is an average of $22.50, which is just about the cost he quotes in England. Even at $275 it is not that much more than in England.

Canada pays to subsidise the free ISBNs there. Do you really want more government meddling and socialism here? I have considered getting my free Canadian ISBN and using a printer in Canada to manufacture the book. Not sure if there is a net savings or not these days.

There was a time (mid 70s and maybe later) when the ISBNs were free everywhere, even in the USA. But too many folks read Poynter’s book and overwhelmed them with requests.

ISBNs merit a small charge for handling an order and a fee to pay for processing each book when the number is used. The price is definitely skewed in favor of the big New York City pubs.

I see that the single ISBN also includes a bar code, which makes it more reasonable as most folks have to buy a bar code image from someone else anyway.

Bill Adams

Anybody can get a free barcode here:

You do *not* need to buy a barcode from R.R. Bowker!