How do I de-register an ISBN?
July 31, 2006 6:34 AM   Subscribe

A book I wrote was going to get published but then the publisher went out of business. Before they went under the publisher assigned my book an ISBN, so the never-published book still appears in various databases. How do I de-register the ISBN and remove it from the web?
posted by Fuzzy Monster to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ow, my condolences, Fuzzy Monster, that's deeply disappointing and I wish you good luck in re-publishing it in the near future. I don't personally know the answer to your question, but anonymous agent Miss Snark takes questions on her blog, as does onymous agent Kristin Nelson, and I bet if they don't know, they can find out for sure.
posted by headspace at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2006

I'm not sure if you can de-register it as such, Fuzzy. Ingram for instance (one such wholesaler/DB) gets the ISBN from the publisher, as does Amazon and so on, there is no central authority, each Publisher buys a block of ISBNS to use and then assigns them book by book. In my experience you will have trouble with Amazon (as they have a staff of four very smart dogs and a mute, depressed robot), but you might *might* be able to contact Ingram and Baker&Taylor and the like and tell them the publisher is Kaput and to purge the entry, maybe. What will happen is that your book (when picked up for publication again) will be assigned a new ISBN and this will supercede the old just by virtue of its own existance. The book data well is very poisoned with bad data, and probably always will be. If you tell me what DB's the info is in, I might be able to tell you more.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:06 AM on July 31, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the kind words, headspace.

D_W: What will happen is that your book (when picked up for publication again) will be assigned a new ISBN and this will supercede the old just by virtue of its own existence.

This is very reassuring. I was worried having an old ISBN would somehow throw a wrench in the works when it comes time to republish. Not the case, eh?

I managed to get it off Amazon. You're right, it was a colossal pain in the ass and it took several attempts.

It's still on Yahoo Shopping and It had been listed on (Literary Press Group of Canada) but they appear to have de-listed the out-of-business publisher and with it, my entry.

Thanks for filling me in on some of the finer points of the book biz, D_W.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:57 AM on July 31, 2006

Generally it's up to the publisher to pull these ISBNs. If you contact Bowkers (books in Print) and Ingram and get htem to list the ISBN as unavailable or out of print that should stop it from appearing in most online databases. You will need some patience though as getting an ISBN off an online database is incredibly hard to do as no one seems to have staff focused on keeping the records correct.

If the the publisher is kaput make sure to get all your rights back from them on the book. Hopefully your contract had something in it about insolvency and what would happen. Just because the company no longer exists does not mean that all the rights to your book have transferred back to you. once you have all rights to the book it will be easier to get old ISBNs out of systems.

Good luck.
posted by rodz at 9:59 AM on July 31, 2006

Response by poster: Hopefully your contract had something in it about insolvency and what would happen.

Oh, it did. The rights are mine.

Thanks for the tips, rodz.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:14 AM on July 31, 2006

You'll want to contact the Library of Congress. They'll have a bunch of forms for you to fill out, and they'll be VERY slow, but those are the people who register ISBNs and deal with ISBN related issues.

I work in publishing and get the shit job of registering all the ISBNs.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:46 AM on July 31, 2006

Sometimes these databases, eg. Ingram and Amazon are actually linked to update each other automatically. So I hate to say it, but don't be surprised if after you purge your data in one place, it pops up again. But don't worry too much. If anything, it will only help you get republished if publishers know someone else was willing to take the risk on it, even if it didn't pan out.
posted by rikschell at 2:12 PM on July 31, 2006

The LOC does register ISBNS, but it doesn't have much to do with the online databases as such, you can have a book on sale in the world for years before it is registered with the LOC (it is a shit job!).

In the end the title + author + ISBN make up the "fingerprint" of the book, better to get a new publisher and then work with them and their distribution to make sure that the new ISBN + Title is the one with the correct info. That old ISBN is just a ghost at this point, sad little ghost. Good luck fuzzy.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:20 PM on July 31, 2006

Might want to check with R. R. Bowker. They deal with assigning ISBNs (according to the LOC). My work gets cataloging information they're missing from Bowker. I wouldn't be suprised if Amazon & etc also use them as an authorive source for US books along with the LOC.

Bowker even has a handy corrections submitter.
posted by easyasy3k at 6:12 PM on July 31, 2006

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