Director’s Desk:
Who’s a Publisher?

March 2003
by Jan Nathan

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Our industry is becoming confused. And when it gets confused, it builds fences… many of which are becoming impenetrable.

One area of confusion centers on the following question: Who is a publisher and who is not? In today’s publishing community, many people who have written a book have paid for its production and been informed that they are its publisher. Paying for a product definitely does not make one a publisher. Owning the product’s ISBN (International Standard Book Number) definitely does make one a publisher. But there’s more to it than that.

Each day at the PMA office, we spend hours discussing projects with–and answering questions from–authors who think they are publishers. They are astounded when distributors, wholesalers, and retailers will not speak with them about making their titles available to the trade. They’re also surprised when we tell them that even if they did participate in many of the PMA marketing programs, there would be no way to track the effectiveness of the programs for their books. The reason? Most book ordering relies on the ISBN and the orders will never come to these authors because they don’t own their ISBNs. Instead, orders will go directly to the registered owner of the ISBN, who counts as the publisher.

This seems to be extremely difficult for many authors to grasp, since there are companies that produce their books and inform them by letter that the author is the publis…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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