A book’s Cataloging-in-Publication Data (also known as CIP) is a bibliographic record created by the Library of Congress prior to a book’s publication. When the book is published, the publisher includes the CIP data on the copyright page to facilitate book processing for libraries and book dealers.
Any library that selects a book to add to its collection must catalog it, which they do by downloading a catalog record from the national database by referencing the Library of Congress Cataloging Number (LCCN) printed. The Library of Congress provides CIP data blocks to publishers through their CIP Program at no cost for books that are “most likely to be widely acquired by U.S. libraries”.
The problem is, the CIP Program currently excludes self-publishers and print-on-demand books from participating. Therefore, the Library of Congress will never create a CIP data block for those books, and they will most likely never be acquired by libraries.
If getting your book into libraries is important for your publishing plan, there is a solution.
The Library of Congress has created the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) Program. According to the LoC website, “The purpose of the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program is to enable the Library of Congress to assign control numbers in advance of publication to those titles that may be added to the Library's collections. The publisher prints the control number in the book and thereby facilitates cataloging and other book processing activities. The PCN links the book to any record which the Library of Congress, other libraries, bibliographic utilities, or book vendors may create.”
Any publisher and type of book can apply for a free PCN. Once acquired, you can then pay a specialized vendor to create a Publisher’s version of a CIP data block, known as a Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication Data (P-CIP), which will be included on your book’s copyright page, and a Machine Readable Catalog Record (MARC), which is uploaded to the major databases prior to the book’s publication.
- Apply for a free Preassigned Control Number (PCN) at loc.gov/publish/pcn. (This is the current application portal, however, the Library of Congress is creating a new interface designed to improve the process, and the URL may change in the future.)
- Once you have your PCN (and you’ve purchased and registered your own ISBN), work with a Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication Data vendor to purchase your P-CIP and MARC. An established vendor is Five Rainbow’s Cataloging Services at FiveRainbows.com, who can supply both the P-CIP and MARC for about $80.
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