The portal from where the ISBNs are requested have a trivialised interface. The book description box which demands less than 500 words doesn’t work even if your description has less word count than the aforesaid limit. Moreover, the description box doesn’t allow special .

characters highlighted in the screenshot. It is impossible to have a book description without proper punctuations. As we remove these punctuations, the descriptions begin to look inappropriate. Such misappropriations neutralise the entire process of making the ISBN allocation online
Ever since the ISBN allocation has been in transition through an online-web based portal, getting ISBN for books has become a nightmare for publishers, jeopardising book production in a major way. We at Book Link have been following the story for almost two years now.
Images: Another major problem that the publishers are facing is the requirement of cover images less than 100 KB. Compressing each image into less than 100 KB is very time consuming.
Manoj Sharma, Production Manager, Kitabghar Prakashan which has published former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Hindi poetry collections Meri Ekyaavan Kavitaayein, said, ‘when the publishers are requesting for 100 ISBNs, the department is just allocating 20.’
And the story doesn’t end here. A senior functionary from another renowned Hindi publisher, Vani Prakashan, added, ‘Each time the ISBNs are exhausted, publishers have to undergo the same tedious paper work process again within a month or two’.
Pan Card : Another major problem about which many publishers have expressed their concerns is that the MHRD is seeking Pan Cards from even those publishers who are just registered as proprietorship firms and Income Tax Department doesn’t allot Pan Cards for such firms. And individual Pan Card of the proprietor is not acceptable in such a scenario. This procedural flaw stalls the entire application process. For a farm labourer or a housewife who may not have any independent income, if she wants to write a book and self-publish even, a Pan Card may not exist. Which means, a person cannot become a writer. Here only when there is income from writing happening does the issue of getting a Pan Card can arise. Which in effect means, the ISBN process is discouraging self-publishing too.
A Guideline in the Offing
When Book Link tried to contact the HRD ministry over this issue, a senior official on the condition of maintaining his anonymity, did accept that there are problems with the ISBN interface. He further added that his department is making serious endeavours to streamline the ISBN allocation process. Not only that— the department also intends to frame the guidelines for the entire ISBN process so that publishers do not need to undergo these hassles again and again. He said, ‘The concerns raised by the publishers are genuine and we hope and want to assure them that most of these issues would be resolved in a month’s time. If any publisher has got any specific concern or suggestion he can directly reach the Deputy Secretary Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource and Development through email’.
Book Link has actively been covering the entire ISBN transition from manual to web-based interface system. We firmly believe that transition was meant to make things more automated and simplified. But ironically, things have become more complex and trivialised. If the ISBN allocation for each book on an average takes 5-7 days even through a web-based interface then what is the use of having an online system? The ISBN problem of the publishing industry needs to be resolved at the earliest.


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