Who still needs ISBN in the digital era?

My question is this: with e-books now the norm, why should even one bother with ISBN or want to have one? Dump the ISBN system once and for all. How about creating our own system? Just because a system is developed in Europe does not mean it’s good for us or is needed.
A sample of ISBNs used by publishers. The New Times/Courtesy
A sample of ISBNs used by publishers. The New Times/Courtesy

Editor,

This is with reference to Stephen Mugisha’s article, “Lack of ISBN is hurting the local publishing industry”, in The New Times issue of October 2.

My question is this: with e-books now the norm, why should even one bother with ISBN or want to have one? Dump the ISBN system once and for all. How about creating our own system? Just because a system is developed in Europe does not mean it’s good for us or is needed.

For example, even though the United Kingdom is part of the European Union it still does not subscribe to the euro because it would hurt its economy. I find it ridiculous that one would even engage in a back and forth conversation with the ISBN Foundation as if they own our imagination and can impede it in any way.

Most importantly, I think an ISBN is another trade barrier that needs to be removed. But on the other hand, with e-publishing, I wonder why people still need a random number generated by a computer somewhere in Europe.

In this technology era, anyone can write even a short story and sell it, free of charge, on Amazon Kindle, Google Books or Apple iBookstore– and even publish it on their own blog. There are also websites such as lulu.com that will generate ISBN for you free of charge. And if somebody needs a hard copy, then print a hard copy and have it shipped to them.

Do you realise that it’s easier for publishers now to sell e-books than hard copies? And for the most part publishers now have to digitise most of the old popular books which cost them money and labour.

As a matter of fact, hard copies should be banned in the future and ISBN numbers should be rendered useless. Instead let’s create our own catalogue system and let’s call it the Karisimbi Number and let everyone flock to our door asking for the magic number (let’s be a little cynical while we are at it right!).

In the era of information technology people read their books on their phones, tablets and computers. Please, let us not give any meaning to this useless ISBN random-generated number.

Tzitzit, Tel Aviv
Israel

 

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