10 Tips: How to Sell Your Books to Libraries

17 Jan

LibraryDecator Georgia

US Libraries purchase books for nearly $2 billion per year. But not only books, also audio books and other forms of publications, such as e-books.  How can authors reach out to this lucrative market? And what about the distribution channels?

Ask the Library:
Ask if the library needs a purchase order for every book it purchases. Many libraries are publicly funded, and a purchase order, or PO, helps them keep track of their budget.
Ask for a current list of books the library needs to acquire. Most libraries put an emphasis on acquiring very new books; however, they may also be in need of replacements for lost or stolen copies. Find out whether they prefer hardcover, paperback or library bound books. Most libraries prefer library-bound or hardcover books.

Distributor to Libraries
Quality Books Inc.  provides libraries with small press books that are not widely available through other
distributors. Their inventory is devoted ONLY to libraries.They explain:
“For the small publisher, getting noticed, by the appropriate librarian can present an
overwhelming challenge.  Since the vast majority of books and non-print resources produced annually never reach a professional review page, Quality Books Inc. has a stringent review process for all of the
titles we distribute. Our Title Selection Committee is made up of two MLS-degreed librarians and three publishing professionals. The committee uses more than 20 criteria with which to evaluate every title submitted to QBI for possible distribution.”  They give very detailed info what they are looking for at Quality Books’ webpage. They also state clearly how to submit your book, audio-book, CD etc.

Another major distributor to libraries is UniqueBooksInc  and specialist in non-fiction books and DVD’s. “We are a full service library resource providing our customers with newly copyrighted titles. Unique Books Inc. solves the small press dilemma of reaching the elusive, high maintenance library market profitably.”

How Else Can You Promote Your Book in the Library Market?

  • Offer a free (1-2 hour) class in local libraries, where you can certainly mention your book and maybe even sell it.
  • Most online retailers, bookstores, and libraries find books through purchasing relationships with large distributors.
  • Find out the dates of library trade shows and exhibit through co-operative exhibit programs such as those offered through IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association.
  • Authors with several books, or those who can join with another small publishers, might try to get a booth at the ALA (American Library Association) Annual Conference in June 14, in Las Vegas, or at their other conferences, to show your books.  See a video about the Publisher halls at the Conference.
  • However, such conferences are not a place to sell hundreds of books, it is a place to introduce and take orders or hand out business card and ask librarians for theirs (maybe an iPad as drawing price, when people give their card into a fishbowl.)  It’s more of a PR stunt, than big sales.

When is the Best Time?
Many libraries make the majority of their acquisitions at the beginning of their fiscal year, whatever this might be. This is a good time to buy books. If you want to approach Libraries directly: The best time to approach libraries might be in early December and early June (also mostly quiet months there) – as this is when they typically do their purchases.

More tips




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One response to “10 Tips: How to Sell Your Books to Libraries

  1. Darla G. Denton, Writer

    January 17, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    This is great! Thanks for sharing these tips and suggestions. It’s honestly a part of the book selling/book promoting process I had not thought of. I always wonder why my local library seems to lack so many of the new lesser known authors.


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