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I am about to obtain some ISBNs for a few books I plan to publish as an eBook and possibly in print.

From books I have bought from major publishers, I gather that the eBook and print version have separate ISBNs. I also gather that a new edition of a book would require a new ISBN.

If I publish a correction to either the print or ebook version, would that require a new ISBN? What if this results in a change of page numbers? Or the insertion/removal of paragraphs or whole chapters?

The question is, at what point are the changes sufficient to warrant a new ISBN?

Thanks

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Minor corrections do not need a new ISBN. But you do need a new ISBN for new editions, revised editions, and different formats. A change in cover does not require a new ISBN.

Adding chapters or paragraphs makes it a new edition, and technically it should have a new ISBN.

That said, many publishers bend the rules because in the US and UK, ISBNs are expensive.

You can find more details here. https://www.myidentifiers.com/help/isbn

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  • So, if I understand this, obvious corrections are the same edition. If the correction involves some minor repagination, that’s OK. However if content is actually changed, that would be a new edition. Thanks for the link. I’m still not sure on the grey area: if I add one single paragraph of new material, I wouldn’t have regarded that as a substantial change, but it is still new material. – Manngo Feb 9 '16 at 21:21
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    Yes, it is a grey area. Even a cover, which normally doesn't require a new ISBN, might require one if it's the kind of change that changes the book. For example, if everyone raves about the 3D cover on the original, but later versions are non-3D, it probably needs a new number. Minor corrections—typos—won't make any difference. A new paragraph... you could argue it was omitted from the earlier version. A new chapter is pushing it, though. But if you leave the number the same, the ISBN police will not knock your door down. – Duncan McKenzie Feb 9 '16 at 21:42
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    Thanks again. Frankly it is a pain in the neck, given the cost of a new ISBN and discarding an old one. It encourages accumulating all of your minor improvements (such as rewording, better examples or correcting something conceptually) into a new edition, rather than incrementally as and when they occur. – Manngo Feb 10 '16 at 2:18
  • @Manngo yes that's what is usually done in technical books. Readers send them factual errors and typos. When a lot of them add up, they release a new edition, usually with some current updates in that particular field. Fiction books don't have any updates other than typos (rarely, if its from a decent publishing house) . – Akash Feb 10 '16 at 14:01

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