Buy Your Own ISBNs To Unlock Pre-Ordering

Isbn_postI have discovered, unexpectedly, a major advantage in buying your own ISBNs for the print versions of your books. Self-published paperbacks (and hardbacks, I assume) with ISBNs can be pre-ordered on certain Amazon sites before the publication date.

Just to remind you of the issue: A self-publisher is not obliged to buy ISBNs because they are offered free of charge by the likes of Amazon Kindle (an ASIN is the Kindle equivalent of an ISBN), Smashwords, CreateSpace etc, etc. And many indie-authors, not surprisingly, decide to save the cash because the advantages are less than clear.

Nevertheless, I did buy my own block of 10 ISBNs from Nielsen UK ISBN Agency for my novel A Calculated Life. I allocated the first ISBN to my Kindle eBook. Then, last month, I allocated a second ISBN for my CreateSpace paperback (though it was not ready for release at that point) and I uploaded the paperback details including the ISBN to Neilsen’s PubWeb database. I aimed to click “Publish” on CreateSpace by the end of January or mid February, but I stated an official publication date on Pubweb of 28 February (following advice on the Nielsen website). It takes a couple of weeks at least for this data to go live on PubWeb.

I had a shock when I visited the UK Amazon site yesterday and saw the paperback version of A Calculated Life listed alongside the Kindle version (even stating the paperback price of £6.50) – and available for pre-order on, and on the Amazon sites for Germany, France and Japan.

In all the online discussions about ISBNs, I haven’t heard any mention of this pre-ordering plus-point.

The paperback version of A Calculated Life is now listed on and other Amazon stores in Europe, but without the price. If you click on ‘paperback’ there’s a message: “Sign up to be notified when this item becomes available.”

So maybe I have to click “Publish” on CreateSpace before the paperback becomes available for purchase outside the UK, Germany, France and Japan. I don’t know the reason for this inconsistency but maybe you can enlighten me. (It’s worth pointing out that on the CreateSpace website, I did not specify a publication date; I just left the box blank).

I’ll certainly bear all this in mind for any future book release.

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