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Publishing Acronyms, Demystified

There are a lot of acronyms used in the publishing space. Many independent and hybrid publishers will try to intimidate you by using this insider jargon. In this post, I’ll explain some of the most common publishing acronyms.

Print-on-Demand (POD)

Print-on-Demand (POD) describes any service that produces books only upon purchase. POD services are available from local printers, independent publishers, and national service providers like IngramSpark and Amazon. Traditional publishers print a “run” of 20,000 books, for example, and then expect to sell them. POD services can print 20,000 books, or 20 books, or just one when a customer buys them. This service means that authors and publishers don’t have to invest tens of thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – of dollars to get their books in print. POD has revolutionized the publishing industry, by virtually eliminating the need for publishers with deep pockets.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the print-on-demand service from Amazon. There’s some confusion here, because the name “Kindle” implies that this service only delivers books in Amazon’s Kindle eBook format. On the contrary, KDP offers POD services for paperback books and Kindle eBooks. KDP’s publishing process is simple, user-friendly, and free. But if you want a book that doesn’t look homemade, you’ll need to take extra steps to create a professional-looking book.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 10- or 13-digit unique identifier for a particular edition of a book. For example, a book released in both hardcover and paperback would have an ISBN number assigned to the hardcover, and a different ISBN assigned to the paperback. eBooks, Audiobooks, and PDFs do not require ISBN numbers. The cost to obtain an ISBN varies. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) service offers free ISBNs for authors who want to list their books as self-published work. Authors can also purchase individual ISBNs for up to $125 each. Other services provide identifiers tied to a publisher’s brand, and prices vary.

Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) and Preassigned Control Number (PCN)

A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) ties to an entry in the database of the Library of Congress. Local libraries use the LCCN to catalog and categorize the book. Independent authors should register their book before they publish. The Library of Congress offers the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) service for this purpose. The Library of Congress does not charge for this service. LCCN registration is not required.

Don’t Be Intimidated by Publishing Acronyms

When you hear an unfamiliar publishing acronym or term, write it down and Google it. Don’t let publishers intimidate you with insider jargon.

To learn more about the publishing process, including all the benefits of self-publishing, check out an upcoming webinar or online course.