Help:How to enter a SFBC publication

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This page is a help or manual page for the ISFDB database. It describes standards or methods for entering or maintaining data in the ISFDB database, or otherwise working with the database. Other help pages may be found via the category below. To discuss what should go on this page, use the talk page.

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ISFDB Entry Standards for the SFBC

The entry of Science Fiction Book Club editions presents a challenge in that it involves the submission of data that is contrary to many ISFDB standards. Because these editions lack so much vital bibliographic information, ISFDB rules regarding the submission of data that is present within the publication itself must be overlooked. Secondary sources become virtually the only source for this data.

Please note that these standards apply to the US book club created by Doubleday in 1953, and later operated by Direct Brands, Inc. (as of 2012). There was a Science Fiction Book Club in the UK operated by Sidgwick & Jackson (later part of the Readers Union Group of Book Clubs). It was formed within months of Doubleday's club, and was dissolved in 1982.

Field Entries


Publication dates are never stated in SFBC editions (with the exception of titles, starting in 1998, which are exclusively published by the club and not a reprint of another publisher's edition). There are several entry methods that can be used to avoid entering an undated edition (with date "0000-00-00"). The primary source for dates would be the club's printed catalog, or in the past, Things to Come, their monthly announcement flyer. There are also several secondary sources:

  1. For all publications from 1953 through 1968, there is a listing in Volume Three of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy by Donald H. Tuck. Use the month and year in which the book was the club selection. When the selection is a seasonal one, use the month immediately preceding it (e.g. for "Summer 1968" use 1968-07-00).
  2. For publications after 1969, use the date stated in the monthly listings of Locus magazine. The early issues of the magazine do not supply the complete bibliographic data provided in the later issues.
  3. For publications after 1983, you may also use the Locus1 website which currently lists publications up through 2007. Some care must be taken in accepting the dates from this listing, because the dates given are for the month in which Locus received the book. More than 90% of the time this would be the same as the month of the book's selection. But there are occasional divergences.
  4. For publications from 1953 through 2001, former SFBC editor Andrew Wheeler provided lists of club selections to the rec.arts.sf.written newsgroup. Those lists can be accessed by searching Google Groups. Enter "SFBC" and the year.

WARNING: Although it might be tempting to use the gutter code as the publication date for books published between mid-1958 and mid-1987, please be aware that these codes only record the week in which the book was printed. The publication date (date of availability to the club members) averages six weeks later.


Only in recent years has the SFBC published titles crediting themselves as the publisher. Until then most publications of the SFBC were not identified as such within the book itself. This makes it necessary for editors to distinguish these editions from the trade editions. In most cases, adding " / SFBC" to the original publisher's name is sufficient. [Note the spaces surrounding the slash.]

WARNING: Locus, on both its website and in its hard copy listings, only credits "SFBC" as the publisher. This is, for the most part, not entirely correct, because it fails to mention the publisher as credited in the book itself. If entering data from a book-in-hand, state the publisher as printed in the book, adding " / SFBC".


Because all of the books up through the early 1990s were printed on Doubleday's Garden City presses, other publisher's trade edition had to be reset to conform to the Doubleday standards. This meant that the page count would be different from that of the trade edition. In most cases, the book club printings would have fewer pages. Rarely, because of the reduction in page dimensions, the book club's printing of over-sized trade books would have more pages. If you're not working from a book-in-hand, be sure that you're getting the page count from a book club edition, and not the trade edition.

Identification #

Enter the SFBC identification number located on the dust jacket in the Catalog ID field. This number is at the bottom of the back inside flap, and, beginning in 1980, in a white box on the back of the dust jacket. You may also use the catalog number printed in the book club announcement flyer, but in most instances an additional number was added to these listings. Locus also records identification numbers, and, for publications since 1984, in their online database. If you're not entering from a copy in hand, it might be best to leave this field blank.


Note that the SFBC did not start using ISBNs until the 1990s and only then for their exclusive editions.

WARNING: Starting in the 1990s the book club would often reprint a trade edition without changing the copyright page, leaving all the information of the trade edition, including the original ISBN, intact. The following ISBN prefixes were used by Bookspan, later Direct Brands (owner of the SFBC), for book club editions:

  • 1-56865- (1989–1999)
  • 0-7394- (1999–2008)
  • 1-58288- (2003–2008)
  • 1-60751 (2008–2009)
  • 1-61523 (2009–2010)
  • 1-61664- (2010)
  • 1-61129- (2010–2011)
  • 1-61793- (2011–2012)
  • 1-62090- (2012-2013)
  • 1-62490- (2013)
  • 1-61129- (2013)

(Note that the SFBC switched from ISBN-10 to ISBN-13s in mid-2006, so 978- would precede these numbers for all publications published since then.)

If the printed ISBN doesn't fall within these ranges, it is probably the ISBN of the trade edition and should not be used in the ISBN field of the record for the SFBC edition. It should be recorded in the Notes field instead.


SFBC editions never print the club's price for several reasons: prices can be changed without reprinting dust jackets; prices can vary depending on which division of the book club is offering the selection; direct marketing of books presents a non-competitive strategy in product pricing. (Titles were generally available as book club editions from only one source. If Doubleday bought book club rights, that title would not be available through Book-of-the-Month.) Because of this awkward situation, we suggest that the price of the title's first SFBC edition be the price entered in this field. (This, of course, would not apply if there is a new edition published several years later. There have been at least three different SFBC editions of Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man: Shasta, Nelson Doubleday, and Vintage.) The same sources shown above for the Date field can also be sources for prices, especially the club's announcement flyer or catalog. One should be careful when using the club's website, except for pricing books at the time of their being first selected. Prices are often reduced for clearance several months later.


If you're entering data from a copy in hand, and if there's a gutter code printed in your edition, enter it into the Notes field. This would narrow down the printing date of your particular edition. Because a book club edition may have several printings, and each may be designated by its Gutter Code, you may be tempted to create a new pub record for each printing. Before doing so, please ask at the Moderator Noticeboard. It is the current practice to create only one record for each title, and include any gutter codes (if present) in the Notes field. A new record is created if the identification number or ISBN changes, as this usually indicates a new edition of the title (as the case of The Demolished Man referenced above.)

Of course, in any instance where secondary sources are unavailable leave the field blank. Another editor may have access to more data which can be added later. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask at the Help Desk.