As I review dad's book to determine what copy needs to be cut in order to avoid a $150,000 copyright infringement judgement, I have also been giving some thought as to whether I should put an ISBN number on this book. At first glance the answer would seem to be no. If the book is only going to my family, there is no need to have an ISBN on it. But what if the Cincinnati library wants to buy a copy? Or the Delhi Historical Society? I posted the number question on the discussion boards of several author/publisher groups I belong to on LinkedIn. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive for putting a number on the book.
As one woman in Canada stated, "Who knows what roads your book will travel?" Another added that there is a lot of interest in WWII history right now, and felt sales would come from not-so-obvious places. A third woman advised that a book she wrote about her daughter's recent service in the military has sold surprisingly well on Amazon. Who knew?
The bigger issue for me is not whether I want to use one of my precious ISBN numbers on a family book. It is that in using a number the book then becomes published under my publishing company. And anything that comes out of my publishing company needs to look good. I don't want a book that looks home grown to have Provenance Publishing's name on the inside cover. Because I don't have the skill set to lay this book out in a more interesting manner, that means hiring a designer. Which brings me full circle. How much money do I want to invest in a book that may only be purchased by a few family members?