Some observations from Peter Brantley about what ISBNs will do in an age of digital books and multiple intermediaries between “publishers” and “readers.”
We are rapidly jerking forwards into a near term future where ISBNs will be assigned for derivative digital book products by intermediaries, not publishers. As an astute colleague observed in New York, the ISBN becomes a product SKU.
There are many disadvantages in this; one is that it will become increasingly difficult to find the â€œbookâ€ in the tangled weave of various digital instantiations. Perhaps no longer will we be able to ask how many copies did EduPunk 2020 sell.
Jenny had a frustrating time recently trying to figure out why edits she made to the “anyone can edit it!” Wikipedia were speedily deleted. Since I had been around the Wikipedia block a bit, I understood both sides to the problem: community sites don’t behave like vendor/reference sites, and Wikipedia doesn’t have the most robust feedback loops for explaining their processes. If anyone has been following this specific issue [which was resolved later] or this issue generally, you might be interested in a Wikipedia Project which includes, Introduction to Wikipedia Culture for Librarians. It’s still very much in process, but note the focus on inclusivity and appeal over brute “this is how it is” FAQs.
Main point: we can’t expect anyone to be impressed by an approach that boils down to “stand back, I’m a librarian, I’m trained to handle this”. Our success will depend on our power to persuade, to come up with better ideas and to defend them.