Selling Audio-Books and E-books to Libraries

29 Mar




How Do Libraries Get Their e-Books?
OverDrive, the main distributor to libraries has more than 1,000,000 e-book titles available and growing.  They were the early pioneers in the digital lending space and developed the e-book lending systems used by most libraries today. Overdrive uses the same Adobe DRM (Digital Rights Management) system as Kobo, Sony, B & N and Google Books to protect files from piracy and manage the lending period of library e-books. Overdrive also offers a program called “Advantage” where individual libraries and library systems buy extra titles or copies to fill local demand.  Other vendors who sell to libraries are Ingram and Baker & Taylor.
Audio-Book and e-Book Lending Exploded.
In these statistics you can see the tremendous growth in circulation numbers from just one library during the last years. In the meantime the numbers are much higher!

August 2005 – 231
August 2009 – 16,680

Nov. 2009 – 17,521
Jan. 2014 – 57,672

Technology Challenges:
Libraries face many challenges from setting up their internet infrastructure to the actual ebook license acquisitions. In regards to e-Books the initial problems were: staff training and learning how to use and upload e-books to different devices. Integrating the titles into the library system’s online catalog took some time. Getting a download link from the catalog took even more time.

Trade Publishers are the Problem for Libraries.
Acquiring the e-books, is a problem for most libraries because e-book licensing from trade publishers can cost as much as or more than a print book. Several publishers still refuse to sell to the library market. Other publishers are taking advantage on cost and “metering.” Random House will charge $83 for an eBook and Harper Collins has a 26-time checkout limit.  Libraries “buy” the books, but ownership is determined by the vendor/publisher agreements.  If a contract is not renewed will the library still own the titles?

The e-book library market is split between vendors and devices. Costs of content and administrative fees are increasing which can make e-books more expensive than print. Library users persevere because the rewards of checking out e-books from a library are tremendous with the ever-growing inventory of e-books. Yet there are usually a couple extra steps between checking the item out and loading it onto a device. Using an app does seem to solve a lot of this trouble.

Selling eBooks to Libraries.
The Washington County Library System in Minnesota, United States, has been growing their e-book collection in the last few years.  Their entire system is using an innovative method to develop their ebook portfolio.  Local authors are encouraged to submit their own novels in electronic format to add to the existing library system using “Library Local Connect.”.  A similar initiative is currently in place in Douglas County, Colorado, USA. This helps libraries to increase their online e-book portfolio and gives exposure to local authors.  Ask your library if they have a similar program.

Small Publishers:
Overdrive downloads into the library catalog.  However, as an author, if you’re interested in getting your ebooks into libraries, you have limited choices.  They are explaining on their website:
“OverDrive delivers BEST-SELLING digital audio-books, eBooks, music, and video for download directly from a custom-built ‘Virtual Branch’ website.  The world’s leading libraries, including New York Public Library, Toronto Public Library, and Singapore National Library, use OverDrive to deliver content to their patrons.” 
Which means dealing with the wholesaler/distributor OverDrive works only for authors who can proof great sales numbers.

Certain Review Sites are Read by Librarians.
Getting a positive review in a publication that both vendors and libraries recognize is really critical to getting your book considered by libraries.  Books for reviews are selected for their potential interest to a broad spectrum of libraries.  If you’re interested in submitting your forthcoming book for review, keep in mind that many of these publications require submission several months! prior to the book’s launch:

These are the essentials for your book to even be considered for purchase by a library:

  • A professional cover image and book layout
  • Accurate BISAC / subject codes 
  • Complete and well-written book description
  • Accurate readers age range for the book

Hopefully sales from self-publishers to libraries will one day be commonplace.


If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers:

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