Low content publishing will be impacted by a recent KDP change. Amazon basically said they were no longer gonna provide free ISBNs to low content book publishers. Which leaves ya with two options. One, you can publish your low content books with no ISBN. Or, two, you can always buy your own ISBN for each low content book. This applies to notebooks, planners, journals, and other similar works that have repetitive pages designed to be filled in by the user.
And don’t think you’re just gonna trick the system, list it as a large-print book on KDP, and get a free ISBN. Amazon’s too smart for that. It’ll eventually get found out and you’ll probably get banned from future publishing, so it’s definitely not worth it. If you decide to buy your own ISBN, you can use a site like MyIdentifiers.com, which charges $125 for one ISBN or you can save money (per ISBN) if you buy them in bulk. But should you bother? I mean, why spend the money if you don’t have to, right?
From what I understand, an ISBN simply makes your book more official. Your work gets stored in the Books In Print database. An ISBN links to essential information about your book. It improves the likelihood that it’ll be found and purchased. And if you ever wanna sell outside of Amazon, you’ll need it anyways. Especially if you want another bookstore of book publisher to take you serious. If, on the other hand, you’re just dipping your toe in the low content water, may not be that big of a deal. Or will it?
“It’s a pretty significant cost if you’re purchasing your own ISBN,” says KDP specialist Paul Marles. “So you could just publish without one and everything should be fine, right? Maybe. Because this does have implications. Let’s look at the KDP help page. Look under their page for low content books. It says your book won’t be eligible for expanded distribution if you don’t have an ISBN. That could cost ya a few sales. But probably not too significant of an impact on the amount of royalties you’ll receive.”
“Now, the next implication is that Amazon’s Look Inside feature won’t be available for low content books without an ISBN number,” Paul explains. “This might be the most significant thing. And then the other thing is, Transparency Codes won’t appear on your books. All that is is a QR code on the back of your book that users can scan to get more information on you as an author and about the book itself. Why’s Amazon doing this? Are they paying for every free ISBN they were previously giving out? Is it to cut costs? Perhaps.”
“This has huge implications for you if you’re a low content publisher who’s spamming the system with hundreds of books a day. And the main reason for that is gonna be the lack of the Look Inside feature. I know when I go and look at books to purchase on Amazon, I always look at the Look Inside feature because you want to know what you’re buying. So I suspect that’s the same for all purchasers on Amazon. If you can’t have a sneak peek at the book, it’s probably gonna put customers off.”
But yeah, that’s the latest with low content publishing. Amazon’s either eliminating an expense and/or trying to prevent spammy marketers from taking advantage of low content options. Overall, it’s probably a good thing for the marketplace, but it does suck for legitimate self-publishers. If it were me, I’d wanna have the Look Inside feature on there and so I’d suck it up and just buy ISBNs in bulk. That way, it’s done right and I’m giving myself the best opportunity to convert browsers into buyers.