What goes in the imprint of the book?
So what needs to go in the imprint of the book? It depends. If you publish through a service provider such as tredition and their ISBN you use his details. But if you publish the book as a self-publisher with your own ISBN, you write your personal data in it.
Service providers or publishers take a lot of work off your hands as a self-publisher. The state press laws in Germany stipulate what belongs in the imprint of a book. Usually only a few details are required: Name and address of the publisher and the printer. However, many authors also include voluntary information. These include a copyright notice with the name of the author, the number of the edition and the ISBN. You can find out more about this below. There are similar laws in Austria and Switzerland.
An example of an imprint for self-publishing with a service provider
The location of the publisher is therefore decisive. The publisher and service provider tredition, for example, is based in Hamburg. The Hamburg Press Act of 29 January 1965 states succinctly: "The name or company and address of the printer and publisher [...] must be stated on every printed work appearing in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg." That's it.
Imagine you publish a book at tredition with an ISBN from this service provider. A very simple imprint of a book then looks like this:
Printing and distribution on behalf of the author: tredition GmbH, Halenreie 40-44, 22359 Hamburg, Germany
Rules in other federal states, Austria and Switzerland
If your publishing house is published in a state other than Hamburg, similar regulations apply. You can't go wrong with the address of the publisher and the printer. In Berlin and Austria, however, the place is sufficient. In Switzerland, no imprint is required for books. Without an imprint, however, you are not allowed to distribute it in Germany. Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate, on the other hand, make things complicated - so here comes some legalese, unfortunately: they even require the name and address of the publisher's authorised representatives if the publisher is registered under commercial law. In Thuringia, the ownership structure of the publisher must be stated.
What goes into the imprint of the book when self-publishing without a publisher?
If you want to write your book entirely on your own as Self-Publishing you have more work to do in many places. It doesn't matter for the imprint of the book whether you use your own ISBN or do without an ISBN altogether. Even for self-publishing, the state press law states what you have to write in the imprint: at most, the address of yourself and of the printer. It depends on which federal state you live in. In Austria and Berlin you only need the city, in Switzerland no imprint at all.
So a simple imprint would be:
Author: Julia Schreibschön, Bert-Brecht-Strasse 1, 12345 Buchingen, Germany
Printing: Gutenberg GmbH, Buchstabenstraße 1, 98765 Wortreich
That's it. That's all that's legally necessary as far as the press law is concerned.
What can you do wrong with the imprint of a book?
As you can see, there is no art to putting together the imprint of the book. The state press laws make clear what little has to be included in the imprint. But a book also involves other legal fields, such as the Copyright, perhaps also the Personal rights. In most cases there are no problems with the imprint. In special situations, however, it is advisable to have the imprint checked by a lawyer.
Rely on your common sense. If you're writing a love story about a 13th century noblewoman, you're unlikely to run into trouble. But maybe you want to publish an exposé on the machinations of a big German bank. Better be careful then! In such a case it is advisable to protect yourself legally in every respect. Also concerning the imprint. By the way, this must also be included in E-books.
Now I have to confess that I lied to you. Because you certainly don't need five minutes to copy and paste this into your book. You could therefore use the remaining four and a half minutes to write in some non-essential information. So now comes the freestyle.
Possible additional components of the imprint
There are many ways to expand the imprint of the book. For your work, however, probably only a few will come into question. Also, you should not stuff the imprint with information that makes it confusing.
The edition and year (e.g. "1st edition 2021") are highly recommended. You should also include the ISBN that identifies your book. You can also mention people who helped you with the translation, the cover design or in other ways. You may even have to do this for copyright reasons. It also depends on the particular contracts you may have signed. However, this is an important point that you should clarify. You are on the safe side if you simply name the relevant persons or companies in the imprint of the book. Quickly done, great effect on your security.
It is also good to have a note on how to reproduce and use your book itself. You can find simple templates for this on the Internet. However, a single character is almost sufficient: ©. Behind it you put your name and/or, if applicable, that of the publisher. The sign refers to the copyright law, where everything is regulated. It may also be useful to include a disclaimer. However, this would require a somewhat longer, legally correct text. Only a few authors include such a disclaimer. Especially if you're writing a how-to book, though, you should think about it. That way, no one can sue you if the diet you came up with didn't work out. Or if something even worse happens.
You could also put your website in the imprint of the book. Or mention a special font or a special paper. The order of all these details is free, best orientate yourself on any other book.
Where does the imprint belong in the book?
Now you've written your masthead. How does it get into the book? Usually the imprint is at the beginning of the book, on page 4, which is the page after the so-called dirty title (the first paper page on which almost nothing is written) and the following title page. In e-books, the imprint is often placed at the end.
It looks serious if you don't experiment with the imprint of the book. Put it where it is usual. In the case of printed books, put it at the beginning, at the bottom of page 4. One of the purposes of the imprint is to create trust among readers.
How the imprint got into the book
After all, you could also say: the imprint of a book is like a return address on a letter. Imagine not writing your name and address on an envelope. Then the recipient can't be sure who the letter is even from. It's stupid, especially if it's a love letter. The post office wouldn't know who to send it back to if necessary.
Now hopefully no one wants to send you your book back (except to get a handwritten dedication). But the one or other reader would like to know with whom he has to do it at all. The imprint of a book also makes it possible to clearly identify the book. All this also has to do with the reasons for which the imprint came into being.
This is how the imprint was created
When you're browsing through the manuscript section of your state library, you run into a problem. Thanks to your language skills, it's easy for you to understand the contents of the ancient scroll. But is what's crumbling between your fingers real? Is it really two millennia old? Did the profound thinker you just discovered actually write it himself?
Before we go into this question, you'd better put the papyrus aside quickly, because the librarian is already looking at you quite sparingly. The authenticity of manuscripts is a major problem in literary studies. Even today, for example, it has not been conclusively clarified which writings and parts of texts go back directly to Aristotle.
With the advent of printing, as developed by Gutenberg, this was gradually recognized as a problem. The new technology was used to spread ideas... ...to share invective... To publish polemics. That's when some authors proudly began to have more details about their works put on the title page. Increasingly, however, states were trying to stop the proliferation of publications. Authors were to be held responsible for their writings. The imprint was added to the book.
What does imprint mean?
The word "imprint" goes back to Latin, but has only been in use since the 19th century. It means as much as 'printing note'. As the imprint of a book, information about its author or publisher was printed on the cover. The prospective customer knew immediately: Here no nobody, no amateur publishes. Someone was writing here who stood up for the content with his name. Because it immediately caught the eye on the book cover, the imprint of the book was also an advertising measure. After all, it was a time when books were rarely featured in cool commercials on YouTube. So what was "imprinted" on the book was meant to market the work.
How to use the imprint of a book for marketing
You should also keep marketing in mind with the imprint. Also, the people who later have something to do with your book without reading it.
The imprint as a tool for sales and libraries
With the imprint of the book you also accommodate libraries. It contains everything the librarians need to include your writing in the collection. In some cases, this is already done automatically. Booksellers can quickly find your book with the imprint in databases. If you want to quote from your book in your own texts, the imprint also contains all the necessary information.
The imprint of the book as a marketing tool
Let's face it: many readers callously skim over the imprint. But one or the other lingers briefly with their gaze. For some, at least the impression that this is a serious book solidifies during the skim. Doesn't it look like one by Thomas Mann or Immanuel Kant?
So how could you convey respectability? How could you emphasize the value of your book? Are there any special features you could point out again in the imprint of the book?
Pseudonym in the imprint
From the 17th century onwards, it was a common practice to write books under a false name - a pseudonym. Rulers had authors persecuted who expressed themselves too freely. Therefore, the imprint of the book was already more or less prescribed at that time. France, for example, was particularly behind progressive thinkers and writers. But they knew a trick: they had their books printed abroad, for example in Amsterdam or Cologne. The goods were then smuggled into France and sold there under the counter. In the imprint, of course, there was not the real name of the author, but a pseudonym.
Pierre Marteau as founder
Often it was a certain Pierre Marteau who was supposed to have written the book in question. This Peter Hammer, as he was called in German, was an author who loved to write and was hard-working. He wrote sexually permissive writings, incited against the existing order, mocked the church and the king. Some readers sought out just such books. The name Pierre Marteau in the imprint of a book promised them a particularly stimulating read. The imprint had become a marketing tool.
How can you use the imprint of the book for marketing purposes? You could, as already mentioned, print the address of your website there. If you have chosen a special font, you can mention it here. If you've used an editor, feel free to mention the editor here. The message is: Yes, this book has been edited! You, as the author, have gone to a lot of trouble and expense to make it as good as possible. So the imprint can also be a proof of the quality of your book. And at the same time keep damage away from you.
What must be included in the imprint of a book is specified by the state press laws in Germany. Usually this is only the name and address of the publishing house or self-publishing service provider. We recommend that you add ISBN and copyright notice with your name as well. If someone has helped you with the cover, editing or similar, it is recommended and sometimes even legally indispensable to mention them in the imprint as well. Usually the imprint is placed at the front of the book, on a straight page. If this is not suitable for stylistic reasons, the imprint can also be placed at the very back of the book. The imprint does not mean much work for you, but it is indispensable so that booksellers and libraries can find and offer it at all.