Uganda: International Standard Book Number Helps Authors, Readers Identify Publications 21/01/2015 by Hillary Muheebwa for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The publishing industry in Uganda is a fast-rising sector, gauging by the many emerging publishing houses and self-publishers. With many titles on display, one of the ways authors and readers identify published works is the use of International Standard Book Number (ISBN). ISBN is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally. The ISBN appears at the bottom corner of the outside back cover. The International ISBN Agency describes it as a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. According to David Munaaba, Librarian Technical Service Department, National Library of Uganda, “the purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify a title or an edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition. If two books have the same title, then the only way to distinguish between the two is to use the ISBN.” Each ISBN consists of five elements with each section being separated by spaces or hyphens. Three of the five elements may be of varying length. These elements are: Prefix element; Registration group element, which identifies the particular country; Registrant element, which identifies the particular publisher or imprint; Publication element, which identifies the particular edition and format of a specific title; Check digit, which is the last single digit which validates the ISBN. The administration of the ISBN system is carried out on three levels, namely: International agency; National registration agencies; and publishers. The National Library of Uganda (NLU) is the official and only ISBN registration agency for Uganda. NLU was established by the National Library Act, 2003, mandated to issue ISBN and International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSNs). According to the British Library, ISBN differs from ISSN. The ISBN represents a single volume such as a novel, monograph, a specific title within a monographic series or a specific issue of an annual or yearbook. The ISSN identifies the title of a serial and stays the same from issue to issue unless the title changes. Copyright Boost Charles Bataambuze is the executive secretary of National Book Trust of Uganda. He said that “although getting an ISBN is not a registration for copyrights, it can be used when one is seeking to prove copyrights of his or her book as ISBN can be used as a point of reference for authentication.” The National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU) is a collective management societythat brings together associations and institutions within Uganda’s book sector to promote authorship, publishing and a reading culture. “As NABOTU, when we are paying out remuneration to authors, it helps us to know which book is selling most, depending on the ISBN sales tickets,” Charles said. When bookshops are making orders internationally, public libraries and other organisations that buy in bulk all submit in their orders using ISBNs. As David added, “An ISBN allows for more efficient marketing and cataloguing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers, and distributors and so facilitates the sale of your book due to improved visibility.” Some authors and publishers though do not acquire ISBNs for their works. This according to Charles is an awareness issue. “The biggest challenge is lack of awareness, the publishers not understanding the value of having these numbers on their publications,” he said. Another challenge is the fee charged by NLU before issuing the ISBN. “The fact that there’s an NLU charge is an encumbrance to the authors,” said Charles. He adds that the principle internationally was to have these numbers issued free of charge in attempts to encourage their usage. “The moment you put a fee, then small publishers and self-publishers are subjected to an extra cost,” he said. “This cost is factored in in the final cost of the book paid by the end consumer.” In Uganda, an ISBN costs 40,000 shillings, about USD 15. They are sold in blocks of 10, 100 and 1000. “In determining which ISBN block to buy, the publisher has to provide estimate information on the amount of publication output and volume of books,” explained David. According to David, “an e-book will have a different ISBN from its hard copy counterpart, even though all the information in the material is the same.” It is included on the e-book’s metadata. Charles proposes that the government needs to increase its funding of the NLU so that services like ISBN registration are rendered free to the public. There is growth in the area of publishing and self-publishing, with high quality works to trade across the borders. The use of ISBNs will help the authors, making it cheap for them to access international market. Image Credits: Betsey Marcus Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Hillary Muheebwa may be reached at email@example.com."Uganda: International Standard Book Number Helps Authors, Readers Identify Publications" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.