Friday 24 January 2020


The National Archives of Zimbabwe has stressed that it facilitated with the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) Agency a genuine ISBN, 978-1-77929-583-5, for Professor Jonathan Moyo’s recent book, “Excelgate — How Zimbabwe’s 2018 Presidential Election was Stolen” and notes that publishers need to deal with Amazon when that company is using an out of date list of ISBN numbers.

The National Archives said in a statement that it has two statutory functions: to provide a national archival service and to manage the National Reference Library.

Zimbabwean publishers, including authors who self-publish, have to deposit a copy of all works within 30 days of publication and the National Archives then generates a Zimbabwe National Bibliography listing all published material each year.

The National Archives works hand in glove with the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) Agency, which provides unique group prefixes and ranges to each ISBN registration agency.
Its agency in Zimbabwe is the NAZ. As the local agency, NAZ facilitates issuance of ISBN to all local publishers for their proposed publication titles, charging a nominal fee. The publisher can use the number to generate a bar code.

The National Archives said in their statement that in the case of Prof Moyo’s recent publication with Sapes Books, all the normal processes were followed in the application and issuance of an ISBN.

Sapes Books then told the NAZ that they had failed to upload the number on the Amazon online platform and Prof Moyo accused the National Archives of sabotage. 

NAZ subsequently wrote to the International ISBN Agency on the issues regarding the failure to upload the book on Amazon. In an emailed response dated January 6 2020, Nick Woods, who is the operations manager of the ISBN Agency, reassured NAZ that ISBN 978-1-77929-583-5 for the publication was “perfectly valid”. The authority further assured the publisher to freely use this ISBN to identify their publication.

The ISBN Authority stated that Amazon sometimes uses “an incomplete and out of date list to validate ISBNs entered to its website”.

In this case, the publisher was supposed to approach Amazon which offers online advice on steps to be taken to rectify problems of this nature. Herald


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