Why do you need an ISBN when your book is entirely digital and open access?
Image: Open Grid Scheduler, Flickr.com, 2016
I have now navigated Library and Archives Canada’s system to get ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) issued for Teaching in a Digital Age and the French version, L’enseignement à l’ère numérique.
One issue was identifying the publisher. The books are hosted by both BCcampus and Contact North, and Contact North did the French translation, but however I own the copyright through the CC-BY-NC Creative Commons license. As it is a self-published book, it seems that I am the publisher. However, it is confusing to have the same person as both author and publisher, so I have registered my consultancy company, ‘Tony Bates Associates Ltd’, as the publisher, as this will not affect the copyright.
So for citing purposes, I suggest the following:
Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Designing Teaching and Learning Vancouver BC: Tony Bates Associates Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-9952692-0-0.
(This is a general ISBN. The ISBN for the pdf version is 978-0-9952692-1-7 and for the epub version it is 978-0-9952692-3-1)
Bates, A.W. (2016) L’enseignement à l’ère numérique: Des Balises pour l’Enseignement et l’Apprentissage Vancouver BC: Tony Bates Associates Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-9952692-1-7. (The French version is only available as a pdf).
See also How to Cite Archival Sources if you should happen to access the book via Library and Archives Canada’s electronic collection, rather than going directly to the book’s web sites.
However, if you have used another citation for my book previously, it should be OK so long as it conforms to one of the citation standards such as the APA. If there are any librarians reading this who have better advice, please use the comment box below.
As new translations for the book are published, I will add these to this web page.
Good question. I resisted for over a year getting an ISBN, since all you need to access the book is the url, but I had academics stating that it was university policy that they could not require students to access any publication without an ISBN (really!), and students telling me that supervisors were requiring them to give the ISBN when citing the book.
There is also a legal reason. Any book published in Canada, whether self-published or not, must be deposited in an electronic format with Library and Archives Canada, and to do that you need an ISBN. I didn’t know that until I asked for an ISBN for the book.
The third is to increase accessibility. The book is now listed in Library and Archives Canada so can be downloaded also from their site, in either pdf or epub format. University and college librarians in particular access publications through this site.
So it was a bit of a bureaucratic hassle, but ISBNs are automatically issued through the Library and Archives Canada web site, once you are registered, and uploading copies to the Electronic Collection is relatively straightforward. Just remember to ask for enough ISBNs when registering a publication to ensure that there is an ISBN for every version of the book.
Over to you
Any comments, corrections or suggestions welcome.