New ISBN Rules Imposed For Publishers In India [Authors & Publishers In Trouble?]

ISBN And Related Introduction

ISBN in clear understanding is International Standard Book Number which is allotted by the judicial body of the press in every nation. Every book that authorised publishing avenues to publish and houses come out with ISBN. Why is it important for a book to have an ISBN? Well to identify a book and origins. That would be a simple task for this ten numbers (which HRD expanded to 13 characters). Hence the code becomes a literary identification for existence. However, that’s not all the things it does, this code comes handy even in the classification of books, across online and offline mediums. Of course, with the explosion of online hosting platforms, like Amazon Kindle Store, Nook Store, Google Play Books and more, the need to get the book details is supreme.
ISBN provides you with a range of features which allow a publisher to include details regarding, Author, Publishing Date, Format of publishing, Edition details and digital rights management details and such. Ideally, ISBN is included on the Book cover on the back, or/and on the copyright page. Thus, ISBN is reflective of the copyright details associated with it. In this context, ISBN is different for both soft-copy and hard-copy. Also, the region of publication effects as well. ISBN’s are useful when looking for a specific printing of a book. A student, for example, can search by the code to find the correct edition of a textbook for school. If you are looking for a particular edition, binding or even cover art of an absolute title, knowing the code will be extremely helpful when searching for the book.

ISBN In India Brings A Reformist Structure To Book Publishing

The National Agency offers ISBN in India within the country. For printers, publishers and independent authors, the web portal “Raja Rammohan Roy National Agency For ISBN” offers a comprehensive service. The web portal which provides services like How to Apply guidelines, New Applicant Registration, Recently Published, and Department login. In this context, when an applicant comes into Registration portal, you get the options of Author details, Pin-code, PAN Card Details and more. As an author, you can also go through the publishing guidelines which will help you apply quickly and efficiently. However, when you look at the latest updates which have been brought in by the Ministry of Education in India (HRD), you must say that the registration comes across as a difficult choice.
When you bring together your inputs and content to the fore, and draft your book, all you want to do is bring it out as smoothly as possible. But that’s not the case now. The new guidelines have made life difficult for authors and publishers to obtain ISBNs. After the process has gone online, Publishers from across the globe have expressed concern over stringent and sometimes illogical needs required. ISBN’s are no longer accessible.  ISBN’s have never offered legal rights protection or quality assurance or anything of such nature. ISBN has always been an author’s or a publisher’s option to include or not. However, most publishers use this to help markets classify their book correctly and also add a sense of authority to their work. In the world of billions, classifications become a prime and active factor.

Essential Cogs of The Publishing World – ISBN Classifications

Thus, ISBN provides us with those options. Now, because it is still not a mandatory clause, we are yet to find a general disappointment from larger groups of authors. Nevertheless, the effect is still there no matter what. ISBN, as they say, is merely a stock management system which becomes an important call to bring a qualitative approach to the industry. When we look at the 1980s, Indian publishers were still getting used to carrying ISBN on the books; it is a testament both to the tenacity of the people who made the logic of such a number clear to the members of the book trade in India. And then came the growing global trade with an ever-expanding electronic and digital era, that today no publisher worth its salt can imagine putting a book out there without an ISBN assigned to it.
The new reforms which have pushed for change within the existing offline publishing guidelines bring in many complicated changes. For example, those authors who register themselves on the portal, are offered only 10 ISBN sets instead of the global standard of hundred. Toward the new applications for fresh publishing ventures, multiple applications have been rejected with the message ‘application incomplete’ but with no further explanation what that might mean.

Woes Related To The Application Form And The Seven Days Conundrum

  1. It has been recorded from different Author sources that even after filling the form and submitting it to the concerned parties, no one had received their ISBN.
  2. Making things worse, there is no guarantee window of time, for the application to be processed and ISBN to be issued. So basically, as an author, you just must sit until eternity to get your application number. In this issue, the advertisement which welcomes you to the site, speaking of ‘Get Your ISBN in 7Days’ comes as non-applicable.
  3. The language of the actual application form adds to the conundrum. As a memorandum on the matter submitted to the ministry three months ago by a group of publishers spells out, ‘The application does not favour Indian language publishers as they cannot apply in an Indian language.’
  4. What this means is that Indian language publishers should submit a phonetic equivalent of the title of the book in the Roman script, which often does not get accepted. Since there is no email or telephone number provided anywhere on the website, these publishers are then stuck with no one to reach out to.

The Troubles Of ISBN Continue Further

Perhaps what is most worrying about the application process is that entities such as trusts which are also publishing houses are being asked during the application process to first get clearance from the NITI Aayog, an organisation that has nothing to do with publishing whatsoever. Publishers fear that the ISBN system might be used as surveillance or censorship mechanism given that we live in an era of increasing legal cases against perceived ‘offending of sentiments’ and book bans, with some large publishers even self-censoring by pulling books off their list in the recent past. Naturally, the publishing industry is worried, and even the international agency has taken note of the problems faced by Indians.

New ISBN Guidelines Which Are Pushing Matters To A Grey Area

The following are the guidelines which allow the authors to bring out their works,
  1. ISBN is only allotted for books, in the form of Hard Cover, Paper Back, eBook, after filling of Application form in English along with supporting documents.
  2. ISBN is allotted to Authors, Publishers, and Educational /Research Institutions, etc. for their upcoming books, booklets, research papers, Braille publications, maps, videos, audiobooks on CD or DVD, electronic publications either on physical carriers or the internet.
  3. Publishers, Authors and Educational/Research Institutions for their upcoming publications, conferences/seminars proceedings must apply along with supporting documents.
  4. Self-authored book published by an individual must fill up the Author’s Form. The ISBN agency will provide a single ISBN to the Author for his/her book. If you need more ISBNs, then separate forms are to be filled up.
  5. Publishers, Educational/Research Institutions, will be initially allotted 10 ISBNs and for a further requirement of ISBNs, they will have to apply afresh along with supporting documents.
  6. The Application form should be filled in English (not in any regional language).
  7. After receipt of properly filled Application form with the supporting documents, allotment of ISBN is processed on first come first served basis.

What Are The Grounds For Rejection For ISBN Registration

Although, the above broad conditions give you a fair idea as to what can go wrong,
  1. Application form not received in original
  2. Application form received unsigned
  3. Improper Signatures, for example: in capital letters
  4. Variations in signature
  5. Supporting documents not self-attested
  6. Mala fide application with misrepresented facts
  7. Requisition letter from University/Institution for conference/seminar not on original letterhead.

Independent Authors Need To Follow These Rules

When the game comes to putting across separate works from authors who approach directly for ISBN, the rules were given out become essential.,
  1. The Authors form needed to be filled up properly and signed by the applicant.
  2. A copy of Photo Identity proof such as Pan Card or Voter ID Card, Aadhar Card or Passport duly self-attested is required to be attached in support of Photo ID proof.
  3. The applicant is needed to submit the book(s) after using ISBN issued, to the ISBN Agency, MHRD.

For Publishing Houses And Educational Institutes – ISBN Details

As the independent authors bring stringent adherence, publishing houses and Educational institutes need to do more than just the above. The Publisher’s Application form duly filled up and signed along with self-attested valid Photo Identity Proof and Statement of Current Bank Account in the name of publishing agency must be submitted. On consideration of Application form, 10 ISBNs will be issued to the applicant. For the further requirement of ISBNs applicant will have to apply afresh with duly filled up and signed Application form along with filled up log sheet. Applicant needs to submit all books after using ISBN to the ISBN Agency, MHRD. Following are the guidelines which are purely applicable for educational institutions.
  1. Educational / Research Institutions may apply through their Head of the Institution/ Registrar of the University for getting ISBN.
  2. The head of the Institutions, Registrar of the University, may appoint a Nodal Officer to coordinate with the Agency, MHRD. No individual section, Department of Educational/Research institution can apply for getting ISBN, but they should approach their Nodal officer appointed for this purpose.

Conclusion For New ISBN

While the portal which came online quite recently (in the latter half of 2016), the work needs to be smoothed out. Although the intent of getting the ISBN procedures online is commendable, there is a lot left to be desired. The same ease of registering and bringing ISBN numbers to authors and publishers, when in physical means should translate it to online means. With the above guidelines, we are just at the start of a new page in publishing evolution within the country, but is it the correct step forward. We’ll leave that to you only? Let us know your thoughts.