It was already about e-books. From the Kindle to the Nook to the very unimaginatively named Sony Reader, e-book Readers were fast to come by and offer those on the move a new way to read books. e-book Readers offered a truckload of choices – from the ability to carry more than a 1000 books at once to the ability to make annotations and notes on the book as you read it.

The iPad has raised the stakes even further. It was always possible to read e-books on smartphones thanks to the likes of the Stanza app on iphones and Aldiko on Google Android phones. With everyone who is someone preferring an electronic version of the book to read, having an e-presence has now become a necessity.

Making your book available in an electronic form also has an economic aspect to it. With more than half of the world’s readers of English books concentrated in North America and Western Europe, it makes sense to cater to these readers, who now increasingly prefer the convenience of e-books. There is also the cost factor. With e-book development being a one-time charge, every additional “e-book” costs nothing to produce. You are earning from each sale and spending nothing.

At CinnamonTeal, we are doing our best to help our authors leverage this channel. We have tied up with myebooks.com and Smashwords™, both respected book channels in their own right. Our association with them allows our authors access to a large number of platforms thus making their books accessible on most devices whether on mobiles or on dedicated e-book readers. To know more about this service, click here.We also offer an e-book development service for a variety of formats.

Many authors seem perplexed when faced with the question of whether they prefer an ISBN for their book. They are not sure whether an ISBN is required, what are its benefits and how it should be obtained. Here is an attempt to answer these questions.

Much of this is borrowed from Joel Friedlander’s blog, which every person wishing to self-publish must visit.

1. What is an ISBN?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It is a 13-digit number that is assigned to one title and one title only (it is actually a bit more complicated than that). It is accepted universally.

2. Why does a book need an ISBN?

An ISBN is required to identify a book uniquely, irrespective of where that book originates from. It is also used to differentiate one edition of a book from another. The ISBN also serves the purpose of being able to identify the publisher of each edition of a book. Booksellers, distributors and libraries the world over rely on the ISBN to accurately catalogue and retrieve each book.

3. Does my book need an ISBN?

The short answer is that it is a good idea to have an ISBN assigned to your book. If you plan to have your book distributed and sold, more often than not your book will be expected to have an ISBN.

4. Does the ISBN have to be assigned by a publisher alone?

This rule differs from country to country. In India, ISBNs are assigned to publishers who then assign it to books. They are also assigned to authors. You simply need to contact the ISBN issuing authority in India.

Note that an ISBN is issued to a publisher (or author). Whoever “owns” the ISBN is recognized as the publisher of the book.

5. Does the presence of an ISBN guarantee a copyright on the ideas included in the book?

It does not. An ISBN is not a registration of copyright, it is a unique number by which your book can be identified and tracked down during trade. That said, an idea once penned down into a book is automatically protected by copyright law, whether or not a copyright is filed for. Hence filing for copyright may not be necessary unless in some unique cases.

6. How much does an ISBN cost?

In India, it costs nothing. Any publisher offering you an ISBN must also do it free of cost. In some other countries, an ISBN must be purchased. In India, ISBNs are issued (to authors and publishers) by the Ministry of HRD, The Ministry has now begun issuing separately to educational and research institutions to encourage them to issue ISBNs for their publications, including conferences/seminar proceedings.

7. Can I reuse an ISBN?

No, you cannot. Once assigned to a book, an ISBN cannot be reused. This is a very important point to keep in mind. The same ISBN cannot be used for different formats of the book, whether the book is in printed or electronic form. That means hardcover and softcover versions of the book have to be assigned separate ISBNs. Similarly, the epub, mobi and pdf versions have to be assigned separate ISBNs.

We recently encountered a case where a publisher had licensed a book to another publisher for a different geographical market. Both books used the same ISBN. If the publisher of the book changes (even if nothing else about the book has changed), the ISBN must also change.

8. Where do I put the ISBN in the book?

You’ll print it on the copyright page (sometimes called the imprint page), and it’s included in the Cataloging-in-Publication (CIP) data block, if you use one. Otherwise, just print it on the copyright page and on the back cover as part of the bar code.

9. So does there have to be a bar code too?

Again, a matter of choice. However, if you plan to have your book distributed through physical book stores, your book might be expected to have a bar code. You can have your bar code generated here.

10. I am publishing a paperback and hardcover version of my book. Do I need two ISBNs or can I use the same one?

You need a separate ISBN for each type, to identify them for anyone who might want to find them in directories, catalogs and databases.

The jury is still out on whether an e-book needs a separate ISBN. While the book sellers are asking that an e-book be assigned its own ISBN, many publishers don’t see why that is needed. However, it is good practice to issue separate ISBNs to e-books in each format (eg. EPUB and MOBI).

11. If I revise my book, do I need to give it a new ISBN?

If you only correct minor typographical errors, and don’t make any substantial changes to the text, you don’t need a new ISBN because it’s considered a reprint and not a new edition. A new edition would contain substantially new material, a major revision, or the addition of completely new elements. Anything that makes it a new book is likely to create a new edition and, therefore, will need a new ISBN. The jury is still out on what constitutes a “major revision” but significant additions or deletions might warrant a new ISBN.

A change in the cover of the book alone does not require that a new ISBN be assigned.

12. I had self-published my book and now an established publisher has picked it up for publishing. Will the book need a new ISBN?

Yes, it will. Since the ISBN identifies, among other things, the publisher of the book, it is necessary for the next publisher to issue you a new ISBN. Please note that the first ISBN cannot be reused.

On the 29th of March, 2010, Mira Koreth’s bookpad at Banerghatta Road, Bangalore registered its first sales. For us at fivex5, it was a vindication of our belief that fivex5 was a concept whose time had come.

First some background. fivex5 was conceptualized as an alternate channel for selling books not because the other channels had dried up but because they were proving to be inefficient and expensive. Those familiar with the brick-and-mortar supply chain will tell you why it is expensive. Publishers get only a small pie of book sales and the money is realized after many days. More importantly the supply chain is hardly efficient. Only a tiny fraction of books make it to the large bookstore chains. The situation gets even worse as one moves away from the cities and towns.

The online store was supposed to change all that. Online stores do provide a much larger catalogue to choose from and offer large discounts that benefit the buyer. But publishers still gain little and the low Internet penetration in India is not helping matters. Websites can support Indian languages to a very limited extent so displaying titles in languages other than English remains a challenge. Besides, customers are still, albeit to a lesser degree, reluctant to pay for the books using their credit cards. Finally, many customers would still rather hold and feel a book before buying it.

If there was ever a possibility of marrying the catalogue-rich feature of online bookstores with the personal attention and rural reach that only brick-and-mortar stores can provide, fivex5 can make that happen. While there is a large online catalogue to choose from (and at the rate publishers are joining in, it can only get better), customers still get a chance to hold a book and view it before buying it.

With fivex5, we hope to develop many small bookstores instead of a few large ones. These will be scattered across villages and towns thus providing publishers with channels to the remotest of areas. What we have also observed is that people in many cities have also expressed a desire to own a bookpad. This can only mean that the presence of bookstores in large cities still leave an unsatisfied need for books.

This is the first in a series of blogs where we will introduce you to our authors. Our authors have chosen to follow the self-publishing route for many reasons, yet propelled by one underlying desire – to make their work accessible to everyone.

The authors we cover today are distinguished persons in their own fields. Their first steps towards self-publishing and print-on-demand were tentative but they have now mastered the process and have completed their third book. Meet authors Dr. Shiva C. Aithal and Abhay B. Solunke.

Dr. Shiva C. Aithal received his Masters degree in Microbiology from Marathwada University in 1993 and his Ph.D in Microbiology from Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University, Nanded. His Doctoral studies are associated with Agro-wastes utilization and biofuel production. He serves as an Asst. Prof. in Microbiology at Undergraduate and Post graduate level in Dnyanopasak Shikshan Mandal’s College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Parbhani (M.S.) A recognized PG teacher in Microbiology and Biotechnology of Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University, Nanded, Dr. Aithal is involved in teaching students at graduate and postgraduate level and has to his credit several papers published in the field of Microbiology in National Journals and Symposia and several books in Microbiology.

Abhay B. Solunke completed his M.Sc. in Microbiology from Marathwada University in 1993. He is a recognised University PG teacher in Microbiology and Biotechnology of Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University, Nanded and has taught at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He has several research papers to his credit and also research projects. He has introduced M.Sc. Industrial microbiology as an innovative subject in UGC X plan program. His Ph.d. work is associated with Mushrooms and the bioconversion of Agro-wastes. He is currently serving as Head-Department of Microbiology and Industrial Microbiology and also as the vice principal of Sant Tukaram Collge, Parbhani.

Their books:

Pollution Control by Microorganisms – Bioremediation, Biocontrol and Other Emerging Technologies

This book presents an authoritative explanation and discussion of a wide range of problems, in three sections, related to the environment, at a level suitable for practitioners and students in science, engineering, medicine, administration and planning. This book will be of particular importance for the increasing number of teachers and students involved in degree and diploma courses in environmental science.

Microbial Catabolism – A Review

This book contains 100 pathways for microbial catabolic metabolism of primarily xenobiotic organic compounds. It includes information on most known microbial catabolic reaction types and the organic functional groups they transform and provides a thorough overview of research and developments being carried out in the field of microbial degradation of xenobiotics compounds that cause harm to the environment. This compilation can also be used as a book for advanced courses in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Environmental sciences, Enzymology and Metabolic engineering. This book is a part of UGC Xth Plan Innovative Programme M.Sc. Industrial Microbiology curriculum.

Air Microbiology: A Environment and Health Perspective

This book is currently the only one solely devoted to Air microbiology. Considering the importance of air in our lives, and the fact that very scare or little information/literature is available on the subject, an attempt has been made to give comprehensive and exhaustive information regarding all the aspects of Air Microbiology. This book covers all the important aspects of air microbiology which is essentially a part of study for Microbiology, Content wise, the book is rich in latest and modern methodologies including nucleic acid sequencing and microbial strain typing.

All three books are published by CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing Services, Margao, Goa.

There are many reasons why a book won’t sell. Primary among them is editing – that is hastily done, or worse, altogether avoided.

If first impressions do make a difference, it is a well edited book, not an exquisitely designed cover, that will sell your book. It therefore makes terrible business sense to skip on editing . A good edit might not ensure large sales for your book but it can certainly eliminate a major reason for it being ignored.

The reasons for choosing to skip on editing are the obvious ones – it is expensive, the process is time-consuming and who could possibly do a better job than I, the author? Editing your own book is like reprimanding yourself. Very hard to do. It is therefore wise to consider having another pair of eyes read through your book. Please remember that any changes that might be suggested will help you produce a better book and increase its chances of selling. Hence take all the help you can get.

At CinnamonTeal, we insist on at least one round of editing. If you have the resources to do so, you should get your book copy edited and, later, proof read. Copy editing will “make the copy clear, correct, concise, comprehensible, and consistent”. Proof reading will correct minor issues overseen during copy editing and will refine grammar, punctuation and other stylistic aspects. It is important to communicate to the editor what is expected of the process. This is because the editor should only correct the anomalies, not interfere with the style of writing. Some authors also expect the editor to change the flow of the text, if considered necessary, while some don’t.

Given that much of the success of your book depends on how it is perceived, a well-edited book goes a long way to ensure that your book creates a favourable impression in the mind of your reader.

At CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing, we offer copy editing, substantive editing and proof-reading services. Visit our website for more details.

We have been often asked why we do not offer packages like many other POD publishers do. It has been common practice about POD providers to offer publishing packages that bundle together services for an all-inclusive fee. At CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing, we have consciously chosen to stay away from packages. There are reasons for this:

a. Many of the packages available on offer bundle services that might not be needed by the author. But because no alternative is available, the service has to be bought, and paid for, as part of the package. For example, in package-based offerings, a person may have to pay for cover design even if she could have done it herself

b. Some services ought to be there for free. Like the non-exclusive contract which many publishers offer as part of their basic package but which, we believe, is central to the concept of POD publishing and must be offered without any strings attached. Similarly, in India, ISBN must be issued without any charge.

c. The concept of packages flies in the face of the spirit of POD i.e. helping authors get around budgetary constraints in the process of publishing their book. At CinnamonTeal, we first encourage authors to check and see if their friends or acquaintances can provide services like cover design or editing for free or for a reduced rate.

d. Many times, authors who have bought package-based services are left out of the loop when those services are provided. Consultation is not provided for as part of these services. Hence, during crucial stages like the editing of the book, the author is not allowed to weigh in on the edited draft. Inputs are incorporated but charged as another round of editing.

e. Most of the packages offer marketing services that promise the moon but require the author to be an inherent part of the process. Nothing wrong with that except that the author is led to believe that she can stay out of the process and the marketing package she has paid for will generate sales on its own.

f. Quality isn’t assured. This follows from an earlier point made which illustrates the dangers of leaving the author out of the process. If the author is not allowed to provide her inputs to the edited manuscript, for instance, various nuances of the plot may be altered and the narrative may be lost in translation

CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing Services provides editorial, design and POD services to customers around the globe. It provides services a la carte – you pay only what you ask for.