Book Info (City of Publication, Publish date, ISBN#s)

Hello @Apurva,

Thanks Apurva!

I have communicated back suggesting Montreal for the city of publication, and added Montreal to the three Blueprint texts in the Book Info. Montreal or Montréal?

Similar question for publication date. Should that be connected to the latest version release date, or updated every time there is a minor correction/change?

As far as ISBNs, I am a bit torn. I don’t want it to be confusing for students or faculty or anyone trying to find/access/purchase the print copy of the book. From that angle, I am reluctant to add three more ISBN#s for digital when there are already three for print. On the other side, I’m seeing more citations or the Blueprint text in course of record/curriculum and it is often being listed as a digital reference with the url and with the print version ISBN. I’m not sure if that will cause confusion. Recommendations?


Here is Kelsey Smith’s suggestion:

Good morning!

I’ve only briefly been involved in a similar situation/question once before and I am not sure what ended up happening as far as the ISBN thing went. While I hope that course outline forms will eventually be updated to exclude ISBN and publisher (and replace with other metadata) to be a bit more OER-friendly, my suggestion would be to put the ISBN for the digital version only on the course outline, if that’s possible. Though your LuLu texts give information on where to find the content online for free, some students/faculty may miss this and think they need to purchase the print version. If the print ISBN is required, then I’d suggest also adding in the digital ISBN—while it may look like two required books at first, I think people will soon figure out that it is just two versions of the same text.



Good questions, and some very helpful suggestions from Kelsey.

I’ll start with an easy one: I think we can go with Montréal for the city, as it seems to be the official spelling by city officials.

As for the publication date, it generally stands as a record of the date of the first release. However, in the case of textbooks, which are frequently updated, making clear when the book was last revised is very important. I think you had noted that you also had to update the some of the references in your book for a 5 year relevancy period, which would suggest all the more that the publication dates for newer versions are good to highlight. I’ve done some digging and found that some OER texts do update the publication date for each new edition, but not for new versions (changes about both are recorded in the book’s Versioning History). Before we make a decision, hearing from others might be helpful — I’m wondering whether @zoe or @LeighKP have any thoughts, or can perhaps connect us with others who might have faced this issue before?

Regarding the ISBNs; this is a tricky issue. Kelsey raises some good points here, about including the ebook ISBN, if issued, in the course syllabus, or foregrounding this in some way. Technically, a different ISBN is required for each format and edition of the book (eg: EPUB, MOBI, print (hardback), print (paperback), even for differences between a colour copy and a black and white copy, etc.). These different ISBNs can be helpful if you’re trying to track down, market, or categorize a specific edition or format of a book. However, this can also be a lot for a book like this one, which is available in multiple formats, and can be expected to change over time. Having too many different ISBNs for your book doesn’t seem like something that can be maintained in the long-term. We have a somewhat fortunate limitation in Pressbooks which allows us to enter just 2 ISBNs per book: one for print and another for the ebook. I’d suggest that we go ahead and issue one each for the ebooks, so you can more easily point to these in your syllabus and also make it more accurate for those citing different formats of your book. But I’d be interested in hearing more from others on this question too, before making a decision. What do others think here? How can we best apply ISBNs to the world of OERs, and maintain them as the resources update and evolve?

Not my area of expertise, but I’ll share these questions in the newsletter to see if we get community response.

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How do commercial publishers handle this? We have a prof using this text, and is modifying it to include localization for our University. Would we add yet another ISBN for it? The HEAA requires inclusion of the ISBN, doesn’t it?

Thanks for the support with this query. I’d like to go with digital ISBN#s and hope that there is more clarity on this in the future (especially with the evolving courses of records including OER/digital sources). @Apurva, would you be able to make this happen? Please let me know if you need anything from me.

I’m not certain on Kathy’s good question, but I believe there is a unique ISBN# for print, for digital, and for customization on the commercial side.

Thanks to all,

Hi Kathy, that’s a really good question! I’d be interested in hearing from others who may have encountered this problem before. Perhaps @anthony, @laesoph, @alexisclifton, or others could chime in to share their experiences (or pull others into the conversation who may have more to contribute)?

My understanding has been that ISBNs aren’t always necessary, if you’re not planning to distribute your books through major retailers. I’m not too familiar with the HEAA (that’s the Higher Education Access Act, yes?) and exactly what it stipulates, but would be curious to learn more.

I’d think that if you were planning to distribute, for example, a print copy of the localized/adapted text that is being localized, a new ISBN would be necessary as you’d have to provide this to your print-on-demand provider or printer/distributor. It’s tricky to apply models that were built for a slightly different system, and I expect we’ll all be asking a lot more questions as we try to figure things out.

Hi Dave, yes, I can certainly be sure to provide 3 ISBNs for each of the electronic books in the Blueprint series. I’ll let you know here once complete!

Hopefully we can learn from others in the community to answer this broader question, including Kathy’s own.

@dave.dillon — I’ve registered ebook ISBNs for each of the 3 books, and added it to the Book Information. Please let me know if there’s anything else that’s needed!

I’m happy to share how we approach some of these issues for the B.C. Open Textbook Collection. (Much of what we do mirrors what has already been discussed above.) We based our process on practices followed by other open publishing projects and organizations.

We assign both a “Book” ISBN (added to the Print ISBN field in Pressbooks) and “Electronic book” ISBN (added to the Ebook ISBN field in Pressbooks) for all open textbooks and support resources (guides and toolkits) published by BCcampus and placed in the B.C. collection. In addition, we repeat the ISBN information at the end of the Copyright field on the Book Info page for each book so the ISBN info displays in the PDF versions of the books. (Exported PDFs do not pick up the ISBN field information.) The PDFs are used to create print-on-demand versions of these books. We do not add ISBNs for other formats.

New ISBNs are generated when a new edition is released. Each of our publications includes a Versioning History page to track minor revisions between editions. (OpenStax does the same. )

The books in our collection are static, a decision that was made early in the project in response to potential adopting-instructors’ concern that if they assign an open textbook from our collection, they didn’t want it changed during the semester. (The books don’t change except for minor revisions which are noted on the Versioning History page. We are also careful about how we swap out old editions for new. After the new edition is added, we add a note to the older one stating that it will be archived along with the date this will happen. We never remove an old edition during the term in which the newer edition is added so as not to disrupt current use. But rather, select a date at least one month into the next term.)

Adapted versions of the collection’s books, usually produced by our province’s faculty, are not added to the BC collection. Instead, we encourage each instructor’s institution to include these new versions in their catalogue or repository. We do link out to adaptations we’re aware of on that institution’s page in the Post-Secondary Directory.

As for support resources published by BCcampus (directories, guides, toolkits), ISBNs are assigned only to static resources. Ongoing resources, i.e. those that are continuously updated such as the directories (Information Directory, OER by Discipline Directory, Post-Secondary Directory) and the B.C.-specific Pressbooks Guide, are not assigned ISBNs for the reasons cited above.

As for distribution and printing (the reason for ISBNs), we offer print-on-demand services for all our publications.


Thanks for sharing your approach with books in the BC Open Textbook Collection, Lauri! It’s really helpful to hear more about how others deal with these issues and in your case in particular, which resources are assigned ISBNs and how frequently those are upadated.

Nice tip!

The Versioning History is an extremely useful page when keeping track of differences between editions. Given that the differences between editions is likely to be much more than those between versions, it makes sense that you’d only assign new ISBNs for a new edition.

I appreciate you outlining the process of noting updates to books in the collection, and how this workflow has been set up to minimize disruption for students and instructors using the books in a particular term.

It’s good to see that adapted versions can be found in the Post-Secondary Directory, so instructors who were looking for a slightly different/customized version of a resource know where to look! I know that your collection also points to other repositories and OER collections, to give instructors a wider set of options to find the right resource for their needs.

Thanks again for taking the time to tell us about your process! @dave.dillon, @kathy.essmiller, did either of you have any more questions?