UPC codes - experiences?


Since I've duly sent in a check and a credit application to my printer, I'm now looking at the little details I avoided up to this point, one of which is whether I'm going to put UPC symbols on the boxes.

Looked at the application to become a member of the host organization in the states, and since they didn't state any prices up front, I called their main office, and found out that since I'm not expecting to make all that much, and don't want many codes, I can probably get away with an application fee of $750, and a yearly renewal fee of $150. Er...

While it's doable, it's one more chunk I hadn't anticipated, and I was wondering whether anyone else had actual experience with coding their products.

I suppose, since I plan to do other things, some of which actually may get sold at retail, I can expense it out over time, but it was a shock I'm still dealing with.


Astra, if you are using a professional printer then they should be able to supply a standard product bar code. Most printers do this for a minimal fee or even free.

ALternatively, you could consider using a book number - essential if you are selling to bookshops. These are not very expensive at all - certainly nothing like the price you are quoting. Again, most printers can supply one, or you can buy one from the ISBN agency (sorry, don't know how to do this in the US, but google it and it should be very straightforward) or even buy a block of ten at discount.

Hope this works out - I know how worrying these sudden expenses can be.


Sorry - all of a sudden I realized I had gotten caught up in what I think of as my "standard retail" mode, and instead of thinking what I want to do with the deck, I was thinking what I "ought" to be doing to produce it "right".

Comes of having spent too many years working for large corporations, I think. I'll check into the ISBN numbers again - I'm not quite sure why I backed off from them, except that it really isn't a book...

Don't know what the situation is in the EU, but in the US printers can't simply supply the codes - they provide the translation between the numbers and the printed form, but the codes have to be supplied by the producer, whether UPC or other.

And - most bookstores sell an incredible number of things that aren't books, so their scanners have to be able to handle both types of codes. The question I need to back up and ask, though, is whether I'm going to push for the kind of distribution that would need either one, in the beginning.

I think your and Alex's success has gotten me thinking on a wider basis than I'd originally planned, and I suspect that I need to ease off a bit and see what the "little" markets will do with the deck, at least originally.


Astra, this is a complex issue, but it gets better after you "decide".

Check out:

other than that. besides ISBN, there is UPC and EAN. some retailers use the one, some the other. There is an option for each WITH price and WITHOUT price...
You can also later make a stickie and add that. Some retailers may need a certain code (one of them) to "take" your product, so they can fit it in their system...

it also depends if you would like to publish more than the deck...

the joys of self-publishing...


Thanks, M-Press. I actually did hit the site before I hit the sack last night, and realized that the ISBN actually applies, by their standards, to anything a publisher says is a publication

And that I will need to register WorldTree Products as a publisher, as one step in the process. After seeing the UPC charges, the costs seem quite reasonable.

Woke up this morning realizing that the majority of the swivet I was in had to do, not with the cost of either code, but with something in my self-definition that has to be resolved. I really should recognize THOSE symptoms more easily by now, but since one of them tends to be a minor panic attack, it's sometimes a bit hard to be totally objective when it first hits.

Today is one of those days I really appreciate my membership in this forum. If I hadn't had a place to vent, and try to put down what I was thinking in an organized fashion, and other people to sit there being quite calm about the whole thing and make me wonder what I was so dithered about, it might have taken me several days, instead of 24 hours, to get a handle on what was going on.


Hi Astra,

Yes, I know what you mean, we went through these decisions without as much advice as we could have done with, and it took ages.

So, maybe it's different in the US, but here printers can almost always provide a standard product bar code (e.g. Carta Mundi do this on request) - some, but not all, printers can also supply ISBN codes (we aren't yet EU by the way, but I know most of this applies across Europe). ISBNs? Well, I know there was recently another thread on this so maybe I won't repeat all that. There are varying opinions on whether or not it's good to have one.
I'd just say that it isn't a matter really of the bookshops barcode readers, it's more a matter of placing in the shop. Nowadays most decks have ISBNs and will be placed on shelves in or near some book category like "Mind Body Spirit" - and will be catalogued and ordered like a book. But I can't really advise further than that.


now i see another question....
How does one register as a publisher??? in the US? Is there such a thing-an act to do that?
or, you need to do it in case you want to publish more stuff?
maybe registering means sending it to the Library of congress?

the more we find out, the more comes up!!!!!


Your initial application for ISBNs is actually your registration as a publisher (allows you to send stuff in for inclusion in Books in Print, and Writers Market as a "real" publisher). I think it's standard practice now to use the list of companies that have applied for ISBNs as the default list of publishers.

So, among other things, I need to start thinking of myself as a publisher. Yeesh! I guess that means I won't be "self-publishing" after all. Strange what a difference a few words can make, isn't it?


I agree with you Astra-a few words change "what we do" and make us think of things differently...
Another thing needed to consider now, is whether you'll become an Inc.
This is a tax issue, and it really depends whether you own realestate or have other valuables to your name.
I don't know if this is something to decide now, but you do need to consider what to put on the invoices/receipts.

All depends on size of activity of course, and I'm wondering if that can happen on a later stage.
i remember a post by HusdonGrey, that any activity under $500 is ok, unreported. But we want more than that, right?