Monday, September 14, 2015

How does copyright registration and LCCN work for self-published and print-on-demand books?

Self-publishers will want to know if they need to pay for copyright registration and for Library of Congress Catalogue numbers (LCCN’s).
I’ve checked back over my own books, as summarized here.
My first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book had an initial print run which I managed in 1997.  It looks like I submitted a Form TX for copyright registration, and a separate PCN for the catalogue itself.
The copyright registration may not be legally necessary, as technically a book is copyrighted by the author’s or publisher’s notice in the book once published.  Authors who have good practical reason to believe that “piracy” would occur (or plagiarism) should consider formal registration, which results in a RX number and a certificate in a few months.  The registration has nothing to do with the catalogue number.  (The Writers Guild West has a similar formal registration for screenplays.)
The Library of Congress has a link with all questions at a website specifically for Copyright, and the correct form is TX, link here. Print-on-demand self-publishing companies will offer to do this, but usually charge more than the author can do for herself.
The Library of Congress Control Number does relate to the actual catalogue at the Library in Washington DC. There is a Preassigned Control Number Program that the publishing industry uses to assign control numbers before publication. There is also a Catalogue in Publication Program.  All of this is explained here .  Generally, Print-on-demand companies can get LCCN’s assigned (if requested and paid for – when the actual service is free) but this does not guarantee that the LCCN can be located in the LOC database or that (simultaneously) the LOC will have a copy of the book in Washington along with a card catalogue entry. Generally, the Library of Congress does not catalogue print-on-demand books unless there is a large initial print run and evidence that libraries will actually carry the book physically. The practical importance may be minimal for newer books, since Google book search exists. 

I’ll report later on the issue of placing self-published books (mine at least) in independent books stores and chain stores (I’ve mentioned it before).  

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