Bowker and Google collaborate on ISBNs

From a press release issued by Bowker on May 4, 2010:

Bowker, a leading global provider of bibliographic information solutions and services, has reached an agreement with Google to provision and facilitate the assignment of ISBN numbers to Google Editions, Google’s digital book offering launching later in 2010. The agreement sets an important publishing industry precedent, helping to ensure a standards-driven framework for the identification of digital and print-on-demand book products made available and sold through Google Books. Bowker operates the U.S. ISBN Agency.

Under the terms of the agreement, Google will assign ISBN numbers to Google Editions in cases when book publishers have not assigned their own unique ISBNs to works they intend to make available for sale. Both Google and Bowker will encourage publishers to retain primary responsibility for assigning their own ISBNs to their respective Google Editions and including these records as part of the catalog data they distribute to their trading partners.

“Google Editions are among a growing number of game-changing distribution and reading models available to publishers and book consumers,” says Andy Weissberg, Vice President of Identifier Services at Bowker and a member of the Board of Directors of the International ISBN Agency. “We applaud Google’s decision to leverage the ISBN Standard for identifying Google Editions, as it will help distinguish these offerings from their print and digital format counterparts in catalogues and systems throughout the supply chain.”

One of the core principles of the ISBN Standard is that it identifies a unique and separately available edition of a book. This is as important for e-books as it is for different formats of printed books, especially where trading models involve multiple partners. For more than four decades, ISBN adoption across the supply chain has facilitated pinpointed discovery and acquisitions, e-commerce, distribution and aggregation of product information, and sales data reporting practices.

“For Google, this decision was driven by the book industry’s strong reliance on the ISBN along with our partner-centric business and distribution models,” said Tom Turvey, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Google. “We look forward to working closely with Bowker, our publishing and retail partners and the ISBN Standards Community to ensure a stabilized and uniform approach to the cataloging, discovery and selling of Google Editions.”

Recently, the International ISBN Agency issued a position paper reinforcing that publishers should assign ISBNs to each separately available e-book format and supply their ISBNs to downstream intermediaries and channels. The paper also recognized that there are instances of compressed supply chains where an e-book in a particular format is available exclusively through a single channel, such as Kindle and Amazon, and that in those circumstances there is no requirement for an ISBN.

“Publishers, digital intermediaries and their trading partners continue to deal with an increasing array of e-book formats with specific features, attributes or restrictions. It makes the assignment of separate ISBNs to each format even more important for ensuring that the e-book ordered is the correct one for the user’s device or software platform,” said Brian Green, Executive Director of the International ISBN agency.

More information from the U.S. ISBN Agency regarding ISBN assignments to Google Editions can be accessed at www.isbn.org/google.

Contact:
Beth Dempsey, for Bowker and ProQuest
+1 248 349-7810 office
+1 248 915-8160 mobile
beth.dempsey@proquest.com

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