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Old 11-29-2009, 08:13 AM   #1
Statch
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Ebooks ISBNs and Calibre?

I mostly buy my ebooks at Fictionwise.com. When I download a book, and add it to Calibre, the metadata I see in Calibre usually contains an ISBN, but no book description and often no publisher. To get those, I click on 'Fetch metadata from server.' I've set up the isbndb.com account and put in the access code, so as I understand it, Calibre should be checking both Google books and isbndb.com. However, it rarely finds any metadata using the ISBN supplied from the Fictionwise download, so I usually have to wipe out the ISBN, and try the search again, which gives me other editions of the book. I'm not a purist about this, so I usually just choose the most complete one, even though it's not the ebook version.

It strikes me as odd, though, that what appears to be a perfectly good ISBN from the Fictionwise download doesn't work. Does anyone know why? I know that each format for an ebook is supposed to have a separate ISBN, so is it just that Google Books and isbndb.com don't keep track of all the possible ebook variant ISBNs? (I just read an article saying that the International ISBN agency is reconsidering its policy of having a different ISBN for each format, by the way.) I'd really like to have the correct metadata for my download, if at all possible.

For the most part these are mainstream books from big publishers, so I'd expect them to be in the major ISBN databases. Also, I'm on Calibre version 0.6.19, if that's important. (My primary Internet connection is a mobile modem, which restricts me to 5Gb of downloads a month, so I only download the latest version every so often.)
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:31 AM   #2
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I dont think that eBooks are assigned try ISBNs. I lookes in Amazon and Fictionwise at Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol to compare and at Amazon it is obvious and it is actually ASIN: B002KQ6BT6
Over at Fictionwise it has IBNs listed for 2 formats (Mobipocket Reader ISBN: 9780385533133 eReader ISBN: 9780385533133 ) but when I looked them they didnt come up. That would explain why Calibre finds nothing.
I suggest deleting the ISBN that comes up and then try to get the metadata again and Calibre will attempt to look for the author and book name.
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:42 AM   #3
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That's what I do now -- just delete the ISBN, try again, and accept the version with the most complete information. Of course, that gives me a listing that's not for the ebook version. I don't really care, but it seems odd to me that I wouldn't be able to find the correct information online. (I could also leave the ebook ISBN, and just copy and paste the other metadata from the Fictionwise web site. I'm just too lazy. )

It seems that other people would be having this problem, since Calibre is an ebook management tool, but maybe everyone is just doing what I'm doing. It occurred to me, though, that I should post about it just in case there's another way to get the accurate information.
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Old 11-29-2009, 09:53 AM   #4
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Here's a link to an interesting article about ebooks and ISBNs:

http://ebooks.epicauthors.com/?tag=isbn

And also a link to a Mobileread thread on the same topic:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=63578

Nothing to do with Calibre, but just some background on the ebooks/ISBN issue to explain my Calibre question.
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:14 AM   #5
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When supplied an ISBN the metadata retrieval in calibre uses that. It does not try and map that ISBN to the whole set of ISBNs for each book, as I have no idea how to do that reliably.

Personally, I think the whole system of ISBNs is badly broken. They made sense when books were relatively static things. In the digital age they're a bit of an anachronism.
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:29 AM   #6
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I have seen DOI: numbers on titles from Baen Webscriptions.

ISBN are supposed to be used to get the Same, exact, copy (reprints included) of a printing.
Like the UPC barcode, Make one tiny change and you are supposed to assign a new number. Unlike UPC/EAN they have not fixed the system with an updated version (EAN/UCC-14) .
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