Revising Leah

January 25, 2009

Publishing Through Lulu: The ISBN Barcode

A year ago, when I first published The Spring through Lulu, I remember that the most difficult and confusing part of the process was generating the ISBN barcode for the back cover of my book.

You would think that there would be a website online in which all you have to do is type in your ISBN number and a program would generate a free, high quality barcode image for you to download and use — all in one easy step. There are sites online that can do this, but they aren’t always free. (Perhaps the best option would be for Lulu itself to offer such a service.)

Instead, Lulu directs you to this site, which will generate a barcode for you for free in either .jpg format or .eps format. You don’t want to try to use the .jpg format because the quality of the image isn’t very high, and you need a high quality image for the barcode. The .eps file is what you want, but the trouble is none of my image editing tools on my computer could open up an .eps file.

So what you have to do is download a separate program which will allow you to view and convert the .eps file to another format. A free program, called GSview, is the recommended program (you also need to make sure you have GhostScript installed). It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. Once that program is installed, you can then open the .eps file and convert it to a .png or some other high quality format which you can then edit in another program. (At the very least, you’ll need to crop the image. The barcode image has a lot of white space around it.)

It sounds simple, and I suppose that it is, but I remember last year it took me days to figure out this process. When The Spring was finally published, I knew I’d be re-publishing Leah this year, so I made sure to save the GSview program on my hard drive. A couple weeks ago, when the time came to generate a barcode for the new novel’s cover, it was a very easy process.



  1. Wow, that kind of sucks of them. :/ I can understand how that would be a really long process the first time around. It reminds me of things I’ve done, actually, where figuring out how to do took AGES… and then the second time around, it took like five minutes. It’s odd that Lulu doesn’t offer something like that. One would think that they’d want to do everything they could to make the process of getting a barcode easy.

    Comment by chibidoucet — January 25, 2009 @ 2:48 pm

  2. It is odd that Lulu doesn’t have it’s own little program built into their site.

    Like I say, once you have the software and understand the process, it’s really pretty easy. But last year I spent a few days figuring it out. This year, it only took me about 30 minutes to generate a .png barcode that I could insert into my cover design.

    Part of the problem might be the open source aspect of it. I like open source software (don’t get me wrong), but the developers and engineers who create open source programs don’t always do a very good job of explaining how to use their programs.

    Comment by J.M. Reep — January 25, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

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