Selling your own published ebooks to libraries?

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It appears to be a giant hassle, though there’s no problem (nor much or any expense) making your ebook available and salable in .jpg at your site or for reader/platform/phone use at Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and CreateSpace.

I explain the latter, step-by-step, in How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days. And in previous posts at this blog I’ve discussed the established and effective protocol for selling your hard cover or paperback bound books to libraries, either directly or through library distributors like Quality.

But if you want a headache, try to sell your own ebooks to libraries.

So let me offer three posts about this topic at this blog.

In the third post (within 10 days) let me share the results of my research about finding any process for selling ebooks that works for small publishers like you and me.

Today, let me share my first rather horrifying encounter with the ebook dilemma with libraries, so you get a sense of the rather alarming situation.

In the next post, later this week, I’ll share a look at a report (from January 25, 2013) from the Digital Content & Libraries Working Group (DCWG) where they discuss the 14 items in The Ebook Business Model Scorebook used to create library licensing agreements or contracts. This provides a preliminary look at how the ebook situation might be resolved.

But for now:

(1) We have a dandy library in Novato, California, and by extension through the Marin County system. So I asked the reference librarian how I could see and use an ebook through the library. She gave me a link and said to start with the catalog, then request what I want, and I could download it right there.

OK, but there was very little in the catalog, the three related items had waiting lists many names deep, and they only lent each ebook systemwide one at a time! Much easier to get the printed version from one of the 10 Marin County Free Libraries (plus eight more in the county). They even deliver books found on other library shelves to Novato in a day or two, free.

(2) Then yesterday a letter appeared in the local newspaper, the Independent Journal, from Arlene Sukolsky, a trustee of the Marin County San Rafael Library, that began “Many library patrons are frustrated by the long wait for books to read on their electronic devices, and/or the limited selection of popular titles. Fifty percent of library patrons surveyed stated they were dissatisfied with the E-book selections available.”

Additional facts the trustee then offered were even more unsettling.

(a) Six major publishers control all of the licensing of E-books. Of these, four will not license E-books to our libraries.

(b) Of the two publishers that will work with libraries, exorbitant prices are charged, more than they charge the pubic. For example, a hard cover book purchased by the library might cost $15, while an E-book may cost as much as $80.

(c) Additionally, some books leased to libraries have a self-destruct mechanism built in after 26 circulations.

“What can we do?” Ms. Sukolsky asks. “Not much at this time. Letters to uncooperative publishers is one way to make your discontent known. Legislation needs to be introduced to correct this problem.”

That’s a peek at the ebook library situation at least here about 25 miles north of San Francisco. If the big publishers are impeding sales flow, it looks dire for those of us with one or a few ebooks we want to share through the library.

Keep reading!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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