ISBN vs. LCCN Image

This past Friday I applied for both an ISBN as well as a LCCN for the Chrisman & Kranz Library Press Edition of our Gutenberg Bible facsimile. There was a catch 22 involved. The Bowker | Identifier Service that handles ISBN registration wanted the LCCN on the application. I bet you guessed it, the Library PrePub Book Link that facilitates the LCCN application wanted the ISBN.

Okay, let’s back up a bit. What is an ISBN or a LCCN for that matter?

An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a commercial book identifier and is intended to unique. Publishers, like Gutenberg Publishers, purchase ISBNs and assign them to each separate edition and variation of a publication, as in our Gutenberg Bible. For instance, the 13 digit ISBN for the Chrisman & Kranz Library Press Edition of the Gutenberg Bible is now 978-1-7367678-0-1.

ISBN numbers are to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from on specific publisher and is unique to that edition. This is important for marketing by booksellers, libraries, universities, etc…

The Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) can work in concert with the ISBN but is not necessary for book publication. LCCNs also require the assignment of a Preassigned Control Number (PCN) before the serially based catalog record in the Library of Congress can be assigned. LCCNs are required for any book which could be acquired by the Library of Congress. The LCCN is, as of this writing, still pending as it takes 2-6 weeks to process and assign.

What I have found, it is best to apply for your ISBN first, leaving the LCCN field blank. You can go back later and update your information. Then apply for the LCCN with the ISBN.

I also found, buying ISBN numbers in bulk is cheaper than one at a time. Most books have multiple editions, such as hardcover, softback, large print, digital publication, etc…

Our first edition will be a Library Press edition so we want it to have both an ISBN and a LCN. Other editions, such as custom bound editions may have neither numbers associated with the sets. I do know, Kranz Books Bindery, Chrisman & Kranz, and Gutenberg Publishers are planning, in addition to the Library Press Edition, to create a beautiful full linen bound edition as well as a more traditional medieval bound edition. Think, the Lost Gutenberg’s!

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