Library of Congress, Cataloging Data, and Bowker, Oh My…


Do you have questions about how to register your book with the Library of Congress?  Not sure where to go to register your book for Books in Print?

You can register your book with the Library of Congress if your publisher has more than 4 books published and registered.

However, there are ways around this rule. Library of Congress registration and a valid, properly formatted CIP block on your copyright page are some of the items that separate the “men from the boys” marketing-wise.

If you are a small press with fewer than 4 titles and want the benefits of a Library of Congress Registration and a Catalog-in-Publication block, the follow these steps:

1. Make sure your publisher name is not trademarked. It does not matter if you have a publisher with a similar or identical name as someone else UNLESS it is trademarked. Go here to find out:

There will be another article later on the benefits and detriments of similar or identical publisher names at a later date….

2. Register your publishing name and your TITLE information at Bowker. Go here:

Libraries and Bookstores will look up your information on Bowker. Don’t skip or skimp this step. A fully fleshed out profile and title data listing on your ISBN log will make a good impression. A poorly executed profile or title data block will make a bad one.

3. Apply to the Library of Congress for a Preassigned Control Number. Go here:
From the LOC website: A Library of Congress catalog control number is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. Librarians use it to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record in the national databases and to order catalog cards from the Library of Congress or from commercial suppliers. 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.

4. Once you have all of that done, it is time to get a CIP. A Cataloging in Publication record (aka CIP data) is a bibliographic record prepared by the Library of Congress or one of its vendors for a book that has not yet been published. When the book is published, the publisher includes the CIP data on the copyright page thereby facilitating book processing for libraries and book dealers.

It is not possible to get a CIP from the LOC if the book is Print on Demand, subsidized in any way by the author or published by a house that has published books by fewer than three separate authors.

Do not despair! You can get a CIP data block from a vendor. Libraries want the data in a specific way and you can hire someone to provide that to you. Check out these guys:

or these guys:

You are now on your way!


14 Comments to Library of Congress, Cataloging Data, and Bowker, Oh My…

  1. thanks! I learned a lot and see I have a lot to learn but this is a great start!

  2. Liesbeth says:

    Can one also register as a non-US publisher? As if non-US publishers do not have any books worthwhile being read & borrowed..? I encounter all sorts of difficulties registering at Bowker and at the Library of Congress. There should be a way round?

  3. AG says:

    Well done, Amy – nice and clear!

  4. […] Last, one way to help protect rights is to register for copyright. For $35, you can register online at If you want to take it one step further, you can register your book with the Library of Congress. For details on how to do that, check out “Library of Congress, Cataloging Data, and Bowker, Oh My…” […]

  5. Chris Berggren says:


    Just wondering what the difference is between the LCCN and CIP data block? If a book has a LCCN does it need this CIP data block as well?

    Thanks so much,


    • Amy Collins says:

      A LCCN is a number assigned by the Library of Congress for registrations purposes. A CIP block is a big chunk of data created for the purpose of classifying and shelving. You will not be able to get an LCCN unless your publisher has 4 books by at least 3 different authors. You can get a Pre=Control number from the LOC if you are a single title publisher…. I’d suggest getting a number from the Library of Congress AND a CIP.

  6. […] 4 titles, you can be considered a small publisher and register books with the Library of Congress. New Shelves has an excellent post on applying to the Library of Congress and also getting a Cataloging in […]

  7. Denise says:

    So…did you go with one of the above CIP data block vendors? Were you happy with the results?

  8. […] Collins presents Library of Congress, Cataloging Data, and Bowker, Oh My… posted at New Shelves Distribution, saying, “To truly have access to the markets you want, […]

  9. […] Collins presents Library of Congress, Cataloging Data, and Bowker, Oh My… posted at New Shelves Distribution, saying, “There are things librarians and bookstores look […]

  10. Alan Drabke says:

    I have three books for sale as paperbacks. Each book is a three part serialized novel. So, in addition to three paperbacks, I have nine (9) novels for sale as MOBI file formatted downloads. Do I qualify for a Library of Congress registration?

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