A late-night Twitter conversation with @thDigitalReader and @mikecane led to an email exchange with Roy Crego at Bowker. Nate was wondering about the percentage of ISBNs assigned to ebooks. You’d think that was a simple enough question – it should be. But there are some caveats:
- Not all ebooks have ISBNs (despite my best efforts). eBooks sold by Amazon do not require an ISBN, for example. Some publishers use a single ISBN to account for all digital formats of a book; other publishers assign a separate ISBN to each digital format. So there are inconsistencies in the application of ISBNs to ebooks across the board.
- Roy pointed out that the percentage of ISBNs assigned to ebooks is likely to be drowned out by those assigned to POD books. There are millions of POD titles being registered with Bowker each year. We can thank Bibliolife for this, in part – they are usually my go-to example for poor metadata because they appear to be so busy churning out titles that they cannot keep up with the mechanics of effectively listing them anywhere. (Yeah, it’s a dirty little secret.)
Roy says he’ll get me some numbers next week and I’ll link to Nate’s post once he digests them.