Sometimes the things that you think will be easy end up being the biggest headaches.
I never imagined that the decision on whether or not to purchase ISBNs would be so difficult. Mostly it has been due to a lack of clear pros/cons on owning your own. Second has been the cost. If they were cheaper (and I understand that they have come down in price quite a bit in the last few years), it would be simple. But compared to the POD and vanity press offers of free, $10, etc. ISBNs, it’s difficult to justify spending so much on some numbers that don’t get the average indie author a whole lot. Except, perhaps, for that rare occurrence where the author catches a lucky break and their work takes off. But that’s like playing the lottery, I think; thousands of people play each week, and you might not even have a winner on a given week.
Based on this, it may sound like I’m leaning toward not buying any… yet the opposite is true. I have this strong–though perhaps ridiculous–urge to own at least the printed version of my book in its entirety. In the realm of traditional publishing, that’s not even possible, but indie publishing makes it so. In the grand scheme of things, does it matter? Not a whit to anyone but me. But in the end, I will be able to hold that book in my hand and say it is 99.9% my work from cover to cover. And even if I never recover the cost of the ISBNs, that’ll be a pretty satisfying thing to say.