Ebook distribution platform Smashwords, one of the top retailers for self-published and digitally published works, unveiled a new program today that will make it even easier and more lucrative for libraries to put indie authors’ titles in the devices of digital reading patrons. Library Directwill allow libraries to bundle books in Smashwords’ catalog and select the books based on sales ranking; partnered with the new Pricing Manager which allows authors and publishers to set the prices that libraries will pay, even opting to make their titles free to libraries, the amount of ebook titles that libraries can offer to patrons will increase.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to expand the distribution into new markets, and I think libraries are a really important piece of that,” said Smashwords’ founder Mark Coker in an interview with GoodeReader. “Libraries are standing there with fistfuls of cash in their hands and saying to the big publishers, ‘We want to buy your ebooks,’ and the publishers are saying no or they’re charging way too much for their books. This is a perfect opportunity for indie authors to come in and serve library patrons.”
Library Direct will send its first bundle of ebook titles to Douglas County Library System in Colorado next week, drawing from books in the top 10,000. As libraries are responsible for their own check-out systems for digital copies, libraries have the power to purchase and own as little as a single copy of a title, while having the option to decide to purchase additional copies if the demand is greater.
“Libraries play a really important role in book discovery and author discovery. If we can get our books into the major libraries around the world, it’ll give out authors a long term advantage over authors who aren’t in libraries. Library Direct is a piece of that.”
Interestingly, authors and publishers will have the option to decline participation in the Library Direct program, as Smashwords’ fundamental business model is to put the control back in the hands of those who create the books. But in light of the direction library ebook lending is currently taking, authors and patrons who wish to work within a literary community based on shared content and discovery would be wise to embrace their local libraries.