In the past, authorized publishers applied to GAPP for a batch of ISBNs a few times each year, which they then assigned to the books they published during that period. No one else was able to obtain ISBNs from GAPP, but because many publishers received more ISBNs than they needed, a black market sprung up with authorized publishers acting as book number dealers to private companies that handled acquisitions, editing, marketing, and most of the other tasks a publisher traditionally takes on.To stop this practice, the administration started issuing ISBNs on a per-book basis instead of in batches.
However, because of platform development issues in GAPP's network, Guangdong's publishers have yet to be granted a single title-based book number: new book licenses for 2009 are unable to be issued.The issuance of ISBNs is not the only problem the Chinese system is having:
Many publishers worry that after the title-based system goes into effect, the book data they need to submit to GAPP, including an author bio, a book title, a price, and a total character count, in order to obtain a unique book number and bar code will require working from a complete manuscript that has been edited, laid-out, and fully inspected, and that once this has been done, there will be no chance for further changes.The kinks are being worked out, hopefully. Another Danwei article said:
… the General Administration of Press and Publication, the national media regulating body, has declared: "By the end of 2010, all for-profit news media and publishing entities will be decoupled from the government institutions they are affiliated with and transformed into separate companies. The government will no longer place restrictions on them in terms of ISBN numbers, publication licenses, and content."