Previously we reported on Douglas County acquiring 10,000 self-published ebooks from Smashwords. Now, an article in The Digital Shift outlines how much work was required to complete the deal as the parties had to weed, filter, and tweak a list of indie titles to develop the optimal collection for library patrons.
“It was a lot more complicated for us than we expected,” said Smashwords founder Mark Coker, “We’re giving libraries the option to slice and dice by multiple categories and multiple filters. And, along the way we discovered some cool ways to surface titles more accurately, that we think better reflect the interests of readers.”
The list began with Smashwords’ top 10,000 bestsellers—titles that have proven their appeal through sales. However, DCL and Smashwords soon realized that relying exclusively on a sales ranking could cause problems, such as leaving popular book series incomplete. Focusing instead on bestselling authors, and simply purchasing everything they had written, wasn’t an ideal solution, either. Hypothetically, what if an author had published 1,000 books, each of which sold only a few copies,” Coker said.
Smashwords developed a new mathematical ratings model and then based the bestseller list on it. To this was applied specific filters requested by Douglas. The filters included price caps and limits on specific genres, the exclusion of certain genres, such as erotica, and special dealing with such items as romance titles.
“There were just some really racy covers,” Nemechek explained. “As you know, our catalogs are very visual now. And it’s not that we don’t buy that stuff, but I was afraid that there would be so much of it, and that it was going to flood our system. So I was a little more careful with covers than I probably otherwise would have been… We usually select erotica based on professional reviews or sometimes patron demand. But we try to sift through that stuff more carefully. Given that we had 10,000 titles to work with, excluding the erotica would give us more science fiction, mystery, romance, and the genre fiction that our readers really love.”