ISBNs in the age of digital books

Some observations from Peter Brantley about what ISBNs will do in an age of digital books and multiple intermediaries between “publishers” and “readers.”

We are rapidly jerking forwards into a near term future where ISBNs will be assigned for derivative digital book products by intermediaries, not publishers. As an astute colleague observed in New York, the ISBN becomes a product SKU.

There are many disadvantages in this; one is that it will become increasingly difficult to find the “book” in the tangled weave of various digital instantiations. Perhaps no longer will we be able to ask how many copies did EduPunk 2020 sell.

2 comments for “ISBNs in the age of digital books

  1. 16Jun08 at 10:39

    Did you see the design for a letterpress block that prints QR codes that can be read by (certain) cameras? low fi and hi fi at the same time.

    http://www.blackbeltjones.com/work/2008/06/16/satisfactoryunsatisfactory-feedback/

    maybe some weird future gives every physical object its own unique digital identity, so that there is really no one copy of EduPunk 2020, just 500 subtly different ones.

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