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When we set up Last Light Studio last year, we knew that we were going to be dealing with ISBN 13 codes; you know: those nifty little bar codes that you find in lower right hand of the back cover of most books? (Go check on your book shelf if you don’t believe us. We’ll wait for you to come back).

But little did we realize how weirdly fun the whole ISBN experience would be (Yes, we are aware that describing ISBN codes as fun makes us big publishing nerds. We’re happy being big publishing nerds, thanks very much.) and that these nifty little codes which, at first glance, seem to serve the sole purpose of making it easier for the person at the register to scan your sale actually have a lot more going on.

In light of this, we thought it would be fun (there’s that word again) to use today’s post to highlight the 13 digits of a book’s ISBN code and explain what they mean. Let’s use Bringing Ararat as an example. Bringing Ararat’s ISBN code is: 978-0-9827084-0-8. But what does it all mean?

978 is the standard prefix for books. This three digit code is assigned by industry. In this case, 978 is generally used for book publishing.

0 is a language/country designation. In this case, zero stands for US / English.

9827084 is the designation for Last Light Studio. Interestingly, the bigger the publisher, the smaller their ISBN publisher code. For example, the ISBN code for Penguin books is just 14. Last Light, however, being the tiny studio it is has a very looong code.

The next 0 is a book value assigned specifically to Bringing Ararat. It is book zero for our studio.

Finally, the 8 at the end is a validation number which (and we’re not even going to pretend to understand this) allows computers to generate some sort of algorithm that makes sure the rest of the code is a correct.

Put them all together and you get the 13 digit code.

We’ll have a quiz on this tomorrow!


Well, we’re on home stretch for publication of the print version of Armand Inezian’s Bringing Ararat collection. The book is already available for Kindle, but the release of the print version has lagged behind, and one of the biggest reasons is cover art. It’s just easier to create a cover for Kindle than for print.

We thought it might be interesting to display the various stages that the print cover has gone through. Below are the four major “looks” that we developed for the book. This does not include the various false starts, dead ends, and minor makeovers we made along the way. The final cover that we expect to use for release is actually the 14th major redraft.

Thumbnails are below. Click on them for a bigger view (hopefully your browser will cooperate). And, NO, those red squiggly lines are not part of the design. They’re only there to differentiate the edges of the cover from white backgrounds.