Saturday, August 21, 2021

Can I Get an ISBN for Public Domain Book?

Dear Rich: I am part of an organization that is over 130 years old. One of the founders wrote and published a book in 1899 (in the USA and in France). The author has no known living relatives. A few years ago, we found out a publishing company had republished the book as part of their classics series. We were wondering if we can republish the original design of the book (along with the French Title page/picture cover) for the 125th anniversary of the book. Or would we need to get permission from the publisher that republished the book as part of their classics series? Also will we be able to get a new ISBN number?
No, you don’t need permission, and yes, you can get a new ISBN. 
Public domain. The French and English books were published before 1926 and are in the public domain and you are free to reproduce everything from those two versions. You do not need to ask the "classics publisher" for permission unless you are using some of the publisher’s original text — for example, a forward, introduction, or footnotes. 
ISBNs. International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) identify the publisher, title, edition and format for a book. ISBNS are required by booksellers and distributors and you should purchase one if you will be distributing your book through retail outlets. Bowker sells ISBNs in the U.S.

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