It’s that time again—the latest installment of our D2D Print Masterclass. In today’s article, we’re talking about Vendor of Record and copyright considerations when self-publishing.
What is Vendor of Record (VoR)?
Vendor of Record is a new concept for many self-published authors—even seasoned print users—because they simply haven’t had many options for print publishing. Until now.
All publishers, including self-publishers, choose how their books should reach readers. Printed books have a long-established history that begins with printing presses and leads to orders from vendors, usually physical or virtual bookstores, for distribution to readers.
The Vendor of Record is the entity attached to a book’s ISBN as its vendor. Draft2Digital is one such vendor, even though we aren’t a bookstore.
How does Vendor of Record impact D2D Print?
Vendor of Record comes into play for D2D Print when an ISBN applied to a print book project has previously been used on a book with another service. To use D2D Print as your Print-on-Demand (POD) service, you must transfer the Vendor of Record on each ISBN from the previous service to your Draft2Digital account.
Many self-published authors need some clarification here. Why would anyone else be listed as the Vendor of Record if you own the ISBN?
As a self-published author, you’re the publisher, not the vendor. Each version of the book requires a unique ISBN. The publisher (you, as the self-published author) owns that unique ISBN, and the vendor is simply selling your book as a product for readers.
You don’t transfer any rights when you make Draft2Digital the Vendor of Record for your book’s ISBN. Each retailer or marketplace needs to know who to pay when a book is sold, so authors must directly contact each marketplace and alert them about transferring the Vendor of Record for any existing ISBNs to ensure they see those sales.
Pro tip: For error-free publishing, use a free D2D Print ISBN or a unique ISBN that has never been used previously.
On the other hand, if authors use a free D2D ISBN that has never been used, the process is seamless. Note that this doesn’t make D2D the publisher or the owner, merely the Vendor of Record (or seller).
Does publishing with D2D Print impact my copyright?
No—your work is your own! Draft2Digital claims no ownership of any copyrights for your books, nor do we have any control over your intellectual property (IP).
When you use D2D to publish a project, whether a print book or an ebook, you give us permission to convert, copy, distribute files, and release your book for sale. You can revoke that permission at any time.
How can I transfer Vendor of Record for my ISBNs?
Transferring a print book from one service to another while keeping the same ISBN is a bit more complicated than doing the same with ebooks.
When a print book is published, the distribution service you select (like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, or even Draft2Digital) will be registered as the VoR on that ISBN regardless of who owns the ISBN. The VoR is a completely separate entity from the ISBN owner. Think of it like your driver’s license. You own your driver’s license, but it’s registered to the state or country you live in.
In order to use the same ISBN for your print book with a different print distribution service, the VoR on that ISBN will need to be released so another print distribution service can use it. Just like when you move to another state or country and need to get a new driver’s license, you need to re-register your VoR when you change POD service providers.
As the rights holder of your content and owner of your ISBN, you must contact your original print distributor and request the release of your ISBN’s Vendor of Record, informing them that the ISBN will now be distributed through Draft2Digital (or other print distributor of your choosing).
Each distributor has its own guidelines for VoR transfers. Some will require that the book be delisted from their service, while others only require that global distribution is disabled. Prerequisites will differ depending on the services you used.
Sample Vendor of Record transfer email
In most cases, an email like this one will yield positive results:
Hello [PRINT DISTRIBUTOR],
Effective immediately, I will now be distributing the following print ISBNs through Draft2Digital’s print service. Please contact your LightningSource Representative and let them know when the Vendor of Record for these ISBNs has been released and that they will be moving to Draft2Digital.
BOOK TITLE 1 – ISBN: 0000000000000
BOOK TITLE 2 – ISBN: 0000000000001
Please reach out with any questions.
Feel free to copy firstname.lastname@example.org on your correspondence with your previous print distributor. We’re always happy to help! This is especially handy when dealing with Amazon. We can provide additional assistance by answering or clarifying any questions their support team may have.
Once we have written confirmation that the ISBN has been released, we can contact our print partner and get your title(s) listed.
That’s it for now! Let us know if you have any other lingering questions about D2D Print. We’ll make sure to address them in our ongoing series.