Info: Library of Congress PCN

What does “PCN” mean?

PCN stands for Preassigned Control Number. It is a customized number given to your book by the Library of Congress in order to catalog your book for libraries around the world.

What is the purpose of a PCN?

“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.” ~

Do I need a PCN?

The main reason to get a PCN for your book is if you want to be able to sell your book to libraries. All books purchased by libraries must have a PCN. You also must get your PCN before you print your book as it must be included.

How do I get a PCN?

You can find a step by step guide on how to obtain an EPCN (ELECTRONIC PCN) here.

Is my book eligible?

The following are ineligible:

  • Books that are already published.
  • Books which do not list a U.S. city as place of publication on the title page or copyright page.
  • Books for which Cataloging in Publication data has been (or will be) requested.
  • E-Books (i.e. books published in electronic format).
  • Serials.
  • Custom editions.
  • Items under 50 pages with the exception of genealogies and children’s literature and catalog exhibitions submitted by museums and art galleries.
  • Textbooks below the college level.
  • Items not intended for wide distribution to libraries.
  • Religious instructional materials.
  • Expendable educational materials.
  • Transitory or consumable materials.
  • Translations except Spanish.
  • Mass market paperbacks.
  • Single articles reprinted from periodicals and other serials.
  • Audiovisual materials including mixed media and computer software.
  • Music scores.
  • Most microforms.
*NOTE: In order to submit for an EPCN you must own the ISBN that your book is using (learn more about ISBNs here).
Category: Info

How To Obtain Your EPCN (Electronic Preassigned Control Number)

How to obtain your EPCN
(Electronic Preassigned Control Number)
what is this?

This is to be done BEFORE you print
Stated Processing Time: 2 weeks
Realistic Processing Time: 24 hours
Funds Needed: $125 – $575 (ISBN Purchase)
You cannot use an ISBN supplied by a third party such as Createspace or Lulu.

1. Go to Bowker and purchase your own ISBN number or set of numbers. (I would not suggest getting only one for the reasons stated here) <–*ISBN post coming soon

2. Once you have your ISBN numbers, decide which ones you will use for your different formats (hardcover, paperback, etc. You cannot use the same number for different formats) DO NOT mix these up. You MUST keep the same number for the format you decide on through this process.

3. Create an account with the Library of Congress (this is really simple so don’t be intimidated). Go to this link and read through the four links on the page to make sure you qualify. The application to sign up is through a link at the bottom.

4. Upon receiving an email stating you have been accepted into the PCN program, go back to the above website and login using the provided username and password in the email.

5. Complete the application process for filing your PCN request forms. The ISBN numbers you got should be 13 digits, do not convert them to 10 digit format. You’ll see what I mean when you get to the step in the form. Also, it will ask you something about your paper being some type of alkaline mumbo-jumbo, leave this blank if you do not know.

6. You will receive an email confirming your application was submitted.

7. The process apparently varies. It says it will take 2 weeks in total but from start to finish it took me 24 hours. If you fill out the forms correctly, and have all your ducks in a row, it shouldn’t be long.

8. When you are approved you will receive an email like this:

We have received your request for a Preassigned Control Number for “Your Book Title Here” (ISBN #############). Please print the control number on the copyright page of this book as follows:

Library of Congress Control Number: ##########

Note: Library of Congress Control Numbers (LCCNs) assigned beginning January 2001 have the following format: ##########. Please print the control number exactly as it appears above. Do not add a hyphen.

Please notify us immediately of any change in the bibliographic information pertaining to your forthcoming book so that we update our database to maintain accurate information.

Please also send a complimentary copy of the best edition of the book immediately to:

Library of Congress
US & Publisher Liaison Division
Cataloging in Publication Program
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4283

Continuing participation in the PCN program is contingent on full compliance with this obligation. Copies sent to the Copyright Office for copyright deposit and registration do not satisfy this requirement.

Thank you for your cooperation.

9. So once you get the above email, you are ready to print. Slap your assigned PCN onto the copyright page of your file and submit to print. The number you receive will go on all the formats of your book (basically you don’t need to a different EPCN for your hardcover, paperback, etc. But you do need a new number for new books you write)

10. Be sure to send a copy of your book to the above address RIGHT AWAY once you print. They must have a physical copy of it in their library.

Category: How To