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?
You bring up a common delema around publishing family material. Are you doing this as a hobby/project for the family or community at large. My first run of 100 spiral bound books we did at a local printers for friends and family pre orders didn't have and ISBN number. Our second run of 525 perfect bound did and we sold our next round of "You Can't Get It 'Cause You've Already Got It!" at local books stores, Amazon etc. We invested money from the first sales $1500 for 10 ISBN numbers and established ourselves as a publisher and much cheaper higher quality printing. Our publishing company Thriving Artist Press went on to publish books for national charities and much more. Dream big and it's worth the small upfront investment. Just start out strong with the preorders so you have working capital to cover expenses and the growth of your business.
-Ruth Anne Wood
Wow, can't argue with success! The relatives of those men and women that served with your dad may be potential buyers, too, if they found your book through the magic of the net. Do a blog entry that includes some specifics about his group and see if you get any hits.
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