Bestselling author Joe Konrath is mostly known for his Jack Daniels thriller novels or Codename: Chandler. If you follow digital publishing or a self-published author he regularly keeps his blog updated and lambastes everyone from the Authors Guild to Amazon. Konrath is currently developing a stealth project called eBooks are Forever and he is trying to change the way libraries buy and distribute e-books.
Konraths library projects sole purpose to sell e-books to libraries and they get to keep them forever. He also has a system in place where self-published and independent authors can upload their titles to his service and track their sales.
The current situation plaguing the modern library is quite dire. There is no uniform landscape of e-book pricing for libraries. Some publishers only allow for an e-book to be borrowed 26 times before the library has to purchase it again. Others opt for the digital license to expire after a single year. Random House and Hachette charge between 100% and 500% more for an e-book over the Kindle or Nook edition.
The Michael Connelly novel Burning Room costs $14.99 on Amazon, but libraries pay $106.00 per copy. John Grisham’sGrey Mountain costs $15.99 for anyone wanting to buy the Nook version, but libraries pay $85.00. Interested in checking out the David Baldacci novel The Escape? You can purchase the Kobo digital edition for $14.99 and libraries have to shell out $106.00.
Konraths proposition is selling the digital content to library at the same price they are being sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo. Each novel is around $7.99 and shorter works range from $3.99 to $4.99. The library buys the title once and can loan out a single copy to one user at a time. The big value in this though, is that libraries own the e-book forever, they do not have to purchase it again.
eBooks are Forever knows the entire one copy, one use system is a bit antiquated, but they eventually want to transition to unlimited simultaneous uses system, so patrons and libraries will never have to deal with holds again, AND authors will continue to generate royalties forever.
Authors are really digging Konraths concept and a number of big names have contributed their catalog of content. This includes Hugh Howey, H.M. Ward, Barry Eisler, Michael Prescott, Bella Andre, and CJ Lyons.
There is a standing invitation for other authors to apply for an Author/Publisher Account. You’ll receive an approval or denial email within 24-48 hours. Currently, they are only considering requests if you’ve sold more than 1,000 e-Books and have received more than 100 reviews on your backlist titles.
When is EAF actually launching? Konrath noted that “Right now, we’re working with a select group of partner libraries. We’ve been dealing exclusively with that initial group, but now we’re adding another selection of libraries who will be joining in the next two weeks. They’ve weighed in and have helped us build the platform they actually want. Our full launch date is tentatively set for 2016. When that happens, we’ll begin distribution to ALL public libraries, be it individually, whole library systems, and consortium groups, through both our web platform, as well as patron reader apps.”
I think Konrath has the money and the time in order to make this work. He is well respected in the publishing industry and has lots of big time author friends who are willing to experiment with this platform to see if it pans out or not. I hope it does, it could dramatically change the current landscape and could give major publishes a kick in the pants if EAF starts to attain meaningful market share.