If you already have an account at CCIS, then simply log in. This is where things can get a little confusing. Here’s what the form looks like:
In the categories Product Form and Product Form details, you’re offered altogether too many choices. I have learned through trial and error that it is more important to simply make a selection than to try to fine-tune your book’s profile here. So for Product Form, choose Electronic book text. And for Product Form details, choose whatever most logically fits your book. Your ebook is probably not a pop-up book, a mass-market paperback or a lift-the-flap book (all options on this menu). It might well be, however, a picture book. If you’re in doubt, then choose Other operating system. That makes it clear that your book is digital.
Complete the remaining categories as accurately as you can. Choose the subject that best fits your book, given the available choices. Note that your ebook doesn’t have pages, and that it’s okay to place a zero in this box. Further down the page, however, you’ll find a request for specs re your book’s physical properties.
How much does an ebook weigh? This isn’t an existential question – you’ll have to come up with an answer, or you won’t get your ISBN. Sorry! Hint: I just put down 10 for everything, and my answers were accepted.
The form is long and not always logical, but if you fill in all the information, your request will be processed fairly quickly. They’ll tell you that you’ll have a number within 10 business days, but it’s usually much sooner — 2 or 3 days, sometimes even the same day.
Here’s one more tip: If you have applied for a block of ISBNs in the past and haven’t used them all, or if you entered Forthcoming for the publication date of a previous book and haven’t updated the information (to let them know the book has been published and is available), then your application for a new ISBN won’t proceed. So make sure you keep track of the ISBNs you’ve been issued, and also keep your CCIS profile up to date.
That’s it. Fill out the e-paperwork, and you’re on your way. If you do run into trouble, the Help menu is quite detailed, and you can also get assistance through the contact form. I’ve had adventures of my own with the ISBN — mostly with remembering to get one in the first place and then trying to get the request form to accept my responses.
Some say that the ISBN is an anachronism in the digital age, but there are also plenty of reasons both to retain it and to encourage its broader use. In many countries — the US and the UK are two examples — publishers and self-publishers have to pay for ISBNs, and this makes the issue more contentious. It’s an interesting subject — and a surprise, too, that the unglamorous ISBN can stir such discussion.
Ether for Authors: Can We See You?