Concerns over 'misappropriation' of revenue from ISBN distribution

Published On: September 27, 2023 06:45 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 27: Around 60,000 books have been registered with International Standard Book Number (ISBN) at the Central Library of Tribhuvan University in Kirtipur. Among them, the library has received only 27,000 books. Obtaining an ISBN, a 13-digit identifier, is a requirement for launching any book published in Nepal into the international market.

The provision of ISBNs is also helpful in archiving books published in Nepal, said Sagar Raj Subedi, the acting chief of the central library. Nepal became a member of the ISBN in 2000 and the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala had inaugurated it on February 5 the same year.

Initially headquartered in Germany, the central office of ISBN is presently based in London. In Nepal, the exclusive authority to allocate ISBNs rests with the TU central library.

Though the ISBN distribution is free, Nepal charges a fee for this service. The Nepal Books Association has raised concerns about this, claiming that the revenue generated from ISBN distribution has not been properly utilized.

It has already approached the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Office of the TU Vice Chancellor, and the Central Library, requesting an investigation into the matter. The Association alleges that the fees collected from ISBN allocation are not properly accounted for and have been misappropriated.

Initially, the fee for obtaining an ISBN was Rs 25, but it has since been increased to Rs 300 per book.

This number provided to books is developed with the objective of using it worldwide, identifying the book by machine. However, it is not found in practice.

Although ISBN should be provided to the Nepali publishers and writers free of cost, some amount is charged for this service. However, it is found that it is not registered in a proper way.

The Association’s General-secretary Mahendra Shivakoti said all the Nepali publishers and writers are facing injustice as the ISBN issuance system is done only for the sake of doing it and not managed through information technology.

According to him, the amount submitted by the Nepali citizens should be deposited in the government fund. However, it is not deposited in the government fund and instead misused. Shivakoti called for a fair investigation into the matter and taking action against the guilty, adding that legal redress would be sought through court if the fund is not deposited in the government fund.

A separate library with the collection of the books provided by the publishers and writers should be established from the approximately Rs 16 million raised so far from the issuance of ISBN. The Association stated in a press release that although it was said the necessary physical structures and materials required for the same would be procured, so far no work has been done towards that end.  

The library's officiating chief Subedi denied any misappropriation of the amount collected from ISBN distribution, claiming that the books have been maintained in a transparent manner, arguing that since the amount is spent as per a predetermined process, there is no room for misuse.

Stating that the collaboration with the Booksellers and Publishers Association continues since 2056 BS, he said the Nepal Books Association which was registered around 2069 BS had requested for registering them as well, but they were not registered and therefore they have vented out their dissatisfaction over the same.


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