Whether or not you want to believe this, third party companies such as CreateSpace, LuLu, Author House and Publish America (just to name a handful) are NOT publishing companies. They are P.O.D. (PRINT ON DEMAND) printing companies. One thing (of many, but we won’t touch on them all here) that they all have in common is they want you to believe that it’s not important that YOU the author, own your own ISBN numbers. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and it’s that 13 digit number listed on the back matter of your book under the barcode, inside the book on the copyright page, and ultimately, stored within the industry-wide data base. When a company such as CreateSpace offers you an ISBN number free of charge, it basically means that THEY are the publisher on record of YOUR book. Some similar companies might charge you 25 dollars for an assigned ISBN number, but they are still the publisher on record (even though, they aren’t really a true publishing company.)
So what does this all mean? Well, basically, if down the line you have managed to create a buzz around your book and people actually seek it out at bookstores such as Barnes & Nobel, the store will search for it in the database and find that it’s published by a POD printer. At that point, they will be reluctant to stock it on their shelves because big chains primarily only do business with publishers who guarantee a return policy. Book clubs pretty much employ the same policies. Amazon.com has no such policy agreement with big book chains, nor does LuLu or Publish America. A POD assigned ISBN number simply screams unprofessional so it’s best to avoid these at all cost. Be professional. Own your own!