Tuesday, September 11, 2012

TUESDAY TIP How to Create a Bar Code for ur ISBN (paper books) #pubtip #selfpub #indie #createspace

I've been working on creating my first-ever CreateSpace book (a paper version of the Marketing Series) and when I started designing the back side of the cover art, I realized I had no idea how to get the bar code onto the back.

I'm using Createspace to create the paperback and chose to use one of their free ISBNs rather than buying my own from Bowker. Why? For one, cost. It's $100 for 10 ISBNs and while I definitely can use up 10 ISBNs, I don't have $100 "extra" cash lying around. For another, Bowker wants all kinds of data on the publisher owning the ISBN so I can either give them my personal address info orrrr just use CreateSpace's free number.

In addition, CreateSpace will insert the bar code for me, if I'd like, but I wanted to know how to do this "just in case" (and because I thought it was way kewel to construct my first ever wraparound style cover graphic) so I've generated one and am inserting that image into my Photoshop file for the wraparound cover. Again, you don't "have to" do this if you use CreateSpace. They'll do it for you. If you still just want to know how, though, click through the jump break.

It didn't take me long to find a thread on the CreateSpace community forums talking about this. Obviously, it's a question that comes up again and again. This guy named "walton" answered it back in 2009 better than anyone else as far as I can tell. His thread is here. I'll redo his example with my own number and a tiny bit more detail but really, his instructions are as detailed as anyone might need to figure this out. It's not hard to do, but just in case you're not a rocket scientist like me :) here you go.

These are the numbers Amazon specifies for CreateSpace. If you're using Lightning Source or Lulu or another POD paper book creation and distribution service, you'll need to check their documentation to ascertain the precise measurements and location for the bar code. If you want CreateSpace to do all this for you, leave a white box 2" wide x 1.2" tall in the lower right corner of the back cover, placed at least 0.25" inside the trim lines of the spine and bottom edge. I chose to place mine a full 0.5" inside the trim lines so as to provide more "white space" on my design.

What is the bar code actually encoding?
This might be a no-brainer for some of you but was a surprise to me. I should've noticed it before but I never did. The bar code on the back of a book is actually the ISBN number encoded. Hence, why I'm talking about the ISBN bar codes here. I don't know why I never connected these two things before. If you're using the free CreateSpace ISBN, they give you both a 10-digit and 13-digit ISBN. You'll need the 13-digit number for this.
The 13-digit ISBN for my marketing book is : 978-1479263035. See the number showing up above and below the bar code in the image above?

How do I turn the number into the bar code?
I used walton's suggestion, a free tool on a UK-based web site herehttp://www.terryburton.co.uk/barcodewriter/generator/ though I did notice that walton also mentioned two other sites in the discussion thread. I think this one from Terry Burton works just great, though, and cannot imagine why you'd want to use another. He has a PayPal "Donate" button. If you like his free generator script, I suggest paying $1 for each bar code just to say thank you for such a great tool. When you get to Terry's site, here's what you do:

(1) Select ISBN from the list of types of bar codes this tool will generate.


(2) Enter your own ISBN
into the "contents" box.

Leave the "Options" alone.
You can change the numers
in the "Additional Parameters" but I advise
against it. It's preset to a
nice standard size.

(3) Click the "Make Barcode"
button when you're happy with the options & parameters.

(4) You can save the bar code in any of the available image formats by right-clicking to "Save Link As..." right out of your browser.

If you're putting the image into a layered file such as one in GIMP or Photoshop, you probably want to choose a JPG file to insert into the RGB file in which you're designing your cover. If you plan to generate a set of print-ready files, however, it's nice to have the EPS. I cannot imagine a use for a PNG, to be honest, but it's nice he offers those, too.

That's it. You place the barcode image into your master cover art file, resize it to 2" by 1.2" and you're all done.

For my cover, I chose to put a border line over the bar code and then add in text to indicate the preferred category in which I would like the book to be shelved (by stores or libraries who might purchase and stock a copy of this paperback). However, simply adding the preferred category text over the bar code does not guarantee that the book will be shelved there (if at all).

If you choose to add category text, be sure to use the Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) names for the category. They're used by the book-selling industry to help identify and group books by their subject matter according to a standard convention. If you make up words on your own, there's no guarantee where your book will end up shelved. If you use the BISAC standard identifier, you have a 50/50 shot at getting shelved where you prefer.When you set your book up in CreateSpace, they have a link embedded in the setup page to let you "choose" your BISAC category. Just add that same category to your bar code image.

What's an EAN and Do I Need One?
The EAN is an International Article Number much like the ISBN but an EAN is used to identify any consumer product. Typically, for books, we combine a 13-digit ISBN and a 5-digit EAN to encode the price of a book. That is, the EAN is used in addition to the 13-digit ISBN, not instead of it. This means the book will have two bar codes, one larger than the other, one being the ISBN (larger) and the other being the EAN (smaller). 

This is also means you need another code, right? Find out how to create your 5-digit "price" code by clicking here. You'll need to use the correct 1-digit "currency code" (these are only applicable for English-language books) and then provide a 4-digit price (use leading zeroes for anything under $10.00). 

Currency Codes for EAN
0 or 1 - Great Britian Pounds (GBP)
2 -  I cannot find an explanation for this value
3 - Australian dollars (AUD)
4 - New Zealand dollars (NZD)
5 - US dollars (USD)
6 - Canadian (CND)

So for example, if I were to lock in the price of my paperback book at $4.99, and if I were to use and EAN barcode, it would encode the 5-digit string "50499" for my set price. But I'm not going to set the price. Why? If the price changes, then the EAN must be updated. Guess what? CreateSpace will charge you $25 each and every time that EAN bar code has to be updated for a price change--and you know how often Amazon changes prices on things!

This is why an EAN is optional, and in fact, CreateSpace and Lightning Source both discourage the use of them. Some bookstores, however, won't accept books that have a barcode for the ISBN but don't have the 5-digit EAN add-on encoded. They like to have the price encoded for their scanners. If you choose to use an EAN, or an ISBN-13 with an EAN-5 add-on, use Terry's great tool to generate it and then be sure to size and place it correctly:

(1) Make the EAN about 50% smaller than the ISBN (about 1" wide by 0.6" tall);  and 

(2) Place the EAN barcode at least 1/8" away (preferably 0.25" away) from the ISBN barcode. Place the EAN to the right with the bottoms of the barcodes aligned vertically. You need the barcodes to be separated by enough white space that a scanner can distinguish one from the other.

If you use a combination ISBN-13 + EAN-5 add-on the resulting graphic will have them adequately spaced for you.


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