At yesterday’s IDPF event, BiblioBoard’s Mitchell Davis sat down with Good eReader to talk about the new feature that was just launched with Library Journal that will offer libraries a way to feel confident about including self-published ebooks in their lending catalogs. This feature, called Self-e, will offer libraries a curated list of titles that not only have some standard of quality for writing, grammar, and formatting, but will also help prevent any concerns about the content of the book, much like the stripping of titles last year from major retailers when inappropriate content made its way into the children’s sections of various stores.
The initial reaction to the first announcement of Self-e was mixed from two camps, first from self-published authors who felt the sting of someone suggesting that their work needed to be curated in the first place, but then also the critics of indie works who lauded the idea that they wouldn’t be inundated with what they perceived to be low-quality works. The idea behind Self-e actually addresses both of those concerns.
“I do believe there’s a huge need for curation, saying, ‘These are books that libraries should have absolutely zero apprehension about sharing with their patrons.’ I don’t think there’s any better person than Library Journal for that process.”
Davis spoke to the fact that Self-e is a malleable concept at this point, that the way it functions at the present time may not be what the product looks like in even one year. But for now, it appears to be one of the best opportunities in so far as it is a way for libraries to stop shunning indie authors’ works by receiving feedback from a trusted name in the library space.
“The state modules are going to be a different animal, they aren’t going to have a Library Journal editor saying, ‘I’ve read this book and it’s good.’ That’s going to be a different experience, and there will be different parameters for states to say what they want in the catalog.”
One of the interesting aspects to Self-e is that there is expected to be feedback for authors on why their book wasn’t chosen of for the main catalog, offering insight into what they would need to do in order to bring the book up to that standard. At the same time, not being selected for the curated list does not remove a book from a state’s module, so it’s not so much a “club” that authors are trying to get into as it is a label that says the book has been vetted for inclusion. The intention is to allow librarians to feel confident in the self-published works they use their budgets to invest in, while acknowledging that a great number of these works are worthy but are currently being ignored.