“You vill pup-lish your book in ze correct manner or you vill receive no ISBNs!”

I was over at the website for the German agent for ISBN distribution.

I’m reading the FAQs and all that. Trying to figure out how this all works and when in the process of pubishing I have to buy them.

I come across this sentence, which is very loosely translated from the German:

“You will read the 45-page ISBN user’s manual and you will understand it and you will not deviate from any of the rules or you will be banned from buying ISBNs ever again.”

It felt very soup nazi to me. “No ISBNs for you!”


I printed out the user’s manual–there was an English version–and Dave asked me why I didn’t just read it online.

Because I’m afraid of German bureaucracy.

And because I like to have reference documents in print form so I can pull them off the shelf and check things. Sometimes I’ll even put Post-It bookmarks in reference guides because there’s always that one thing I can never remember.

But, mostly, because I’m afraid of German bureaucracy.

German bureaucrats look at you with such deep loathing when you have forgotten to fill in all the boxes and if you ask them what the date is when you have to sign something.

“Whyfore do you not know ze date?! How can zis be?”

“Lady, I don’t know the date on a good day. I sure as hell can’t remember it with you staring at me in that German accent.”

Anyway, I gotta go read the manual.

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