ISBN #

7 Oct

I recently caught a little problem for an author that I hadn’t seen before — “ISBN #” — which preceded the ISBN on the copyright page of his book. While I’ve heard many people say “ISBN number,” I’d never seen it in print.

ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number,” so having the number sign follow it is like saying “International Standard Book Number number.” I realize people do this all the time with “PIN number” and “VIN number,” but as author-publishers, we should have a higher level of awareness and usage of our industry’s terminology. And people have less tolerance for mistakes in writing versus those in speech.

In this particular case, the author-publisher is very intelligent, educated, and experienced in publishing, so I know this was a slip of attention rather than an error of ignorance. And that’s all the more reason for all of us to keep an eye on our works; none of us is immune from an “unprofessional” publishing mistake.

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