Tag Archives: libraries

Selling Audio-Books and E-books to Libraries




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.


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CreateSpace, Lightning Source – or Both?

CreateSpace, Lightning Source – or both?
a guest blog by author Linda Austin


Most authors are familiar with CreateSpace (CS), Amazon’s self-publishing arm. With little financial outlay, authors can upload their formatted manuscripts to CreateSpace and post their own cover, or perhaps one made using a free CS template or one designed at extra cost by one of CreateSpace’s designers. CS also offers editing services for a fee. CS will provide an ISBN for free or allow you to use your own.

Their program is easy to use, and Amazon takes control of all sales and shipping and will direct-deposit monies earned, minus its cut, to the author’s bank account each month. Authors can purchase copies of their own print book at a discount, and can choose to pay for an Amazon service that creates an e-book from the CS print version if the author doesn’t want to do it herself. For those who choose to go the self-publishing route, what’s not to like?

For one thing, CreateSpace books are found only on Amazon. This in itself is not necessarily bad as Amazon owns the lion’s share of print book sales. What about selling to libraries and real, physical bookstores? Libraries and physical stores don’t buy from Amazon unless a customer requests a book that is available no other way. Libraries and physical stores purchase through their favorite wholesaler-distributors, usually Ingram and/or Baker & Taylor, who give them an industry-standard discount rate. They will not buy from your website, either, as they like to keep their accounting simple.

Many experienced self-publishers use Lightning Source, Inc. (LSI), as their printer because of its connection to Ingram. Ingram opens up distribution of their books nearly worldwide, including on Amazon, and offers industry-standard discount rates to book buyers –the LSI author has total control of his/her book pricing and can set the discount sales rate to standard 55% with returns allowed.

LSI requires an author to have her own ISBNs registered to her own company. LSI also requires a high-quality pdf book file, such as those created by Adobe In-Design or other professional publishing software program, and there is an initial set-up cost. Not quite as simple or inexpensive as using CreateSpace for your MS Word file, however this Ingram connection is important for authors who expect their well-written and well-formatted books to be attractive to libraries and booksellers because of subject matter or popularity due to their determined marketing efforts. For $25 per year, your book will appear in the Ingram online catalog.

Cherry Blossoms in Twilight

But, have you heard CreateSpace has an expanded distribution option for only $25 per year? Yes, it does, making your book available through Ingram and most other online bookselling sites, including Barnes & Noble within the United States.

The Amazon-Ingram connection, though, does not allow Ingram to offer the industry standard terms expected by libraries and physical bookstores, so these entities will likely not want to buy books this way unless necessary, by customer request. Again, perhaps this is not a concern, depending on type of book, quality of writing and book production, and the author’s marketing determination.

Unfortunately, since last summer, Amazon has taken to posting availability times for LSI books coming out as anywhere from 2-8 weeks, even though the digitally-printed books ship almost immediately, as usual. For this reason, many serious authors have taken to loading their books to both CreateSpace for online orders from the general public as well as to LSI for its professional-level, low-cost worldwide distribution. And the same (author-owned) ISBN is used since it is the same book, just through different printers. The same author-provided cover should be used to avoid confusion.

In summary, an author who plans to be a serious contender in the book market, and has a book that will pass muster with librarians and store book buyers, should consider going beyond the Amazon experience.


Linda Austin wrote and published her mother’s story, “Cherry Blossoms in Twilight,” a WWII Japan memoir of history and culture. She is owner of Moonbridge Publications, encouraging life writing and educating authors on the art of successful indie-publishing. She is a board member of the St. Louis Publishers Association.

Twitter @moonbridgebooks


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Posted by on August 11, 2012 in Publishing


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Do as the Brits and the Germans Do

Library Building
In the past a reader had to drive or to walk down to the library and with all the traffic hassles, parking fees and stress sometimes came home empty-handed as the very book he wanted was not available or on a waiting list.

The new e-book library checkout program allows you to order ebooks  from your home or from the beach in Mexico with your new Kindle Fire or iPad.  Hit the order button and start reading the book. And  if you forget to return it, the book automatically gets checked back two weeks later. No lost books.  No late fees.  Great for library patrons. And your dog will not chew on them when you leave him in the car with nothing to do for him.

Publishers have always been uneasy about licensing e-books to libraries.
This spring HarperCollins decided to implemented a new policy where instead of just selling the library an e-book like they do to bookstores, they will only sell libraries a license to download the book 26 times. After that, the library would have to buy another copy. HarperCollins demands also that the libraries could only provide this service to library customers located in the communities they serve. Librarians certainly are not amused.

Last month Penguin Books announced that they were suspending their distribution of new digital books in Kindle format to libraries due to  “security considerations”. Penguin  and other major publishers will continue to license e-books in Adobe EPUB format, the format favored by all e-reader vendors except Amazon, for users of Apple iPad, Sony Reader or Nook.

Penguin USA Group has now returned its (older) e-book titles to lending library shelves after just a three day absence. The publisher pulled every one of its titles and also announced it was delaying the release of any of its new books to the Overdrive and Amazon lending services which power America’s libraries.  The publisher also has not restarted, nor said when it will restart adding their new titles to the services. The publisher set off a storm on November 22nd when it pulled its e-books, particularly with librarians across America.

In 1979 the British parliament passed the Public Lending Rights Act, demanding that authors receive a royalty of 12 cents for every time their book is checked out of a public library.  Other countries were writers receive some form of compensation for library check outs are:

– Germany
– Netherlands
– Israel
– Canada
– Australia
– Denmark
… all civilized societies who honor intellectual labor!

Countries that do NOT pay royalties for library check outs:
North Korea
United States of America…

1 Comment

Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Author Royalties


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