Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Library Direct Enables Libraries to Acquire Large Opening Collections of Smashwords Ebooks

Smashwords today announced Library Direct, a new service that allows libraries and library networks to acquire and establish large opening collections of ebooks, direct from Smashwords.

Library Direct is available to libraries that host and manage their own ebook checkout systems, typically using Adobe Content Server, and that are capable of acquiring a large opening collection.

We have already received purchase commitments from three library systems, each of which will acquire some variation of our top 10,000 best-selling titles.  The purchase commitments approach $100,000 in total.

The first delivery is on schedule to occur next week to Douglas County Libraries in Colorado, which will purchase an opening collection drawn from the top 10,000 best-selling titles at Smashwords.  Douglas County, under the leadership of director Jamie LaRue, has been an outspoken proponent of what is becoming known as the "Douglas County Model."  The Douglas County Model aims to replicate for ebooks the process by which libraries have traditionally acquired print books.  The library acquires the book once, owns the book, and manages the checkout systems where they limit the checkout to one copy at a time for each title they own.  Douglas County monitors the number of "holds" on each book (the number of people waiting to check it out), and if the hold count exceeds a certain number of patrons, the library purchases additional copies.

The other two library systems expected to acquire similar-sized collections include Califa and The Internet Archive.

Califa is a California-based network of 220 libraries in California, with participating members in other states.  Califa is creating its own library aggregation service to provide ebooks to participating Califa members.  Our relationship with Califa was first reported by Library Journal.

The third, and perhaps largest expected purchase will come from The Internet Archive, which operates Open Library, a free online library which in the last 28 days have been visited nearly 2 million times.

Previously, most libraries relied upon published reviews to guide their acquisition decisions.  Under the Smashwords model, the curation is crowdsourced based on aggregated retail sales data drawn from across the Smashwords distribution network with includes the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, the Diesel eBookstore and others.

Qualifying libraries can select from the top 10,000, 20,000 or any other large number of titles, and can custom-filter the titles by category and price range.

Like all new Smashwords distribution channels, authors and publishers have the option to opt out of Library Direct, if they choose, from the Smashwords Channel Manager.  Later today we'll notify all 45,000 Smashwords authors and publishers of this new channel.

Library Direct complements our existing distribution relationships with leading library aggregators such as Baker & Taylor, 3M Cloud Library, and others in the works.  The true sales potential of Smashwords Direct will be indirect, because the analytic tools we're creating to support Smashwords Direct, such as the sales-curated recommendation lists, will also be provided to our library aggregator partners in the months ahead. This will allow them to offer up myriad recommendation lists their sales teams can then present to the library clients.  Do they want a recommendation list of the top 200 bestselling indie romance ebooks?  No problem.  How about the top 100 fantasy or sci-fi titles?  Our library aggregator partners will be able to do that as well, and they'll be able to accommodate smaller order sizes than Library Direct, for which we'll require much larger minimum orders.

The launch of Library Direct is enabled by our other announcement today, the launch of our new Pricing Manager tool, accessible from the Smashwords Dashboard.  Pricing Manager allows authors and publishers to establish custom library pricing for their titles.  Based on our survey, we expect Smashwords authors and publishers will provide their books to libraries at lower-than-retail prices.  Click here to read our Pricing Manager announcement, and learn why it's a foundational element of the Smashwords library distribution strategy, and why we think it's exciting news for authors, publishers, libraries and library patrons alike.

43 comments:

Joe Cottonwood said...

So how can we authors find out what our Smashwords sales rank is?

Marissa said...

Great to hear about the new channels for indie authors to reach readers! I do second Joe's comment though. How will we know if our books have been included in the selection?

Mark Coker said...

Joe and Marissa, great questions! We don't reveal sales rank on the site, though I suppose now might be a good time to reconsider that. Keep in mind, though, that if you have the #9,999 title in our system, but you're in genre or price range that the library filters out, then rank is no guarantee of inclusion. If your book is included in a Library Direct deal, you'll see it show up in your Sales and Payments report, and it'll list the name of the library that purchased it.

Ed Teja said...

It is fun and exciting watching and being a part of your efforts to provide new distribution channels and improve the existing ones. The biggest bugs right now seem to come from the outlets themselves not moving quickly enough to incorporate changes. But it is happening. Great work.

Brian Kittrell said...

Hey, Mark,

If we price at free, it's free forever for the library to use. I get that.

What about paid titles? If the library pays, say, $5 for the ebook, is that $5 per loan? $5 for rights to loan it out X number of times? $5 for unlimited uses for its library membership?

Just trying to get an idea of how all of this works. Also, my dashboard isn't letting me change anything about library pricing/availability. Is the feature still on hold for now?

Sylvia said...

Published reviews and retail sales are two very different selection criteria. Libraries use published reviews because it enables them to include books that are rated highly by reviewers but are not large sellers, either because they haven't been discovered or because they appeal to more specialized audiences than average. Will there be no way for libraries to get such books from Smashwords? It seems to me that there needs to be some indication that a book does have good external reviews, perhaps a category in addition to the subject categories, and that books in this category should be included regardless of sales rank. Otherwise, the libraries will miss some of the best books, especially backlist books originally published in print that are being reissued as ebooks by their authors when the rights revert to them. Often, the book-buying public is not aware that these ebook editions exist.

BBU said...

Until I know what Amazon's response on library editions available for free download by library patrons, I'm out.

Heather Whipp said...

I have the same questions as Brian Kittrell. If any of my books were owned by a library, at a later date I couldn't re-edit/re-write those books and try to get them published by a print publisher, as they wouldn't be mine anymore. Is that a correct assumption?
Also, now that my first effort of listing two books in a series has happened, I'm thinking of extending the series into four books instead of three. My third one is due to be sent in as an e-book in October. I'd like more time to read further comments on selling to a library before committing to anything different.

Brian Kittrell said...

Also, how does one withdraw a title from the program after it has been entered? There must be a way to remove something. All terms of service/contracts have some kind of cancellation clause or section about terminating the agreement.

What the way out if you join and aren't pleased with the results?

(Not trying to cause trouble. It's an important consideration for many of us.)

John Madderson said...

Hi Mark. I can’t make a decision until you answer all questions asked by the writers on the 8/9 August. They ask quite forward questions and I agree with them. I await your reply.

David Gaughran said...

@Brian

This mightn't answer all your questions, but it covers some of them. From the Pricing Tool page that just went live (in your Dashboard):

FREE ebooks - If your book is priced at FREE, the library will have the option to check it out to an unlimited number of library patrons. If your book is priced at FREE, and you later want to charge for the book, it's likely most libraries who previously obtained the book via Smashwords Direct will continue distributing it for free. Just as you cannot take away a book from a reader who purchased your book, or downloaded it for free, you cannot take your book away from the libraries if you donated it to them. We share this information in the interest of full disclosure, not to warn you from pricing books at FREE. In fact, we strongly encourage authors to consider donating some of their books to libraries for the platform-building benefit, because market data strongly indicates that libraries are incredibly powerful sources of author discovery for library patrons, and library patrons buy a lot of books. If you write series fiction, considering giving the first book in the series away for free (we make the same recommendation for retail pricing).

David Gaughran said...

This might be pertinent too (from same page):

Untethered from Smashwords updates - If a library purchases your book direct from Smashwords via our new Library Direct channel, they may not have the benefit of book or metadata updating. Much in the same way if they purchase a print book, the library owns the book they bought. Currently, the Smashwords Library Direct service is only available to a very small number of libraries who place large bulk orders and that operate their own ebook checkout (DRM) systems.

Mark Edward Hall said...

I've never minded giving away a few of my books for the cause, especially to libraries. When I was a kid, the library was my sanctuary filled with wonders and possibilities.
It's nice to see Smashwords opening up a brand new set of possibilities for its authors.

Eliseo Mauas Pinto said...

Great news Mark! Your "Know How" is awesome! Deals like this are the ones who make us proud of being part of!
Keep up the sacred flame ☼

Andrew Levkoff said...

Good to hear, Mark, of the ever-expanding reach of Smashwords. One concern - the libraries are picking up "best-selling titles." Is there no thought to quality? Such as award winners? Well-reviewed works? Best-rated by readers? If I were out for a Sunday drive and passed a building called Library of Best-Sellers, I would keep on driving. Thanks for your hard work.

Mark Coker said...

@Brian The library pays for the book once, just as they'd pay for a paper book once. Then they check it out, limiting it to one reader at a time. Their checkout management system applies DRM, which times out the book after some period of time. To set special library pricing, click to your Dashboard's "PRICING MANAGER" function, which you'll find on the left of the screen above the Channel Manager. Click to the Channel Manager if you want to opt out (though I don't recommend that).

@Sylvia We'll keep an eye on this. Since most indie ebooks don't receive conventional reviews, we're left with customer reviews at retailers or at Smashwords.com, and for poorly selling books, such reviews are subject to gaming. The most credible review conclusions are drawn from a book that has many reviews (hundreds or more), and those books are the ones that are selling. When libraries establish opening collections of our top 10,000, that list will probably capture the quality books to which you refer. The sales distribution curve is the typical power curve. There are a small number of books that sell fabulously well, and then a narrow long tail. When a library establishes a collection of 10,000 or 20,000 books, they'll get a great diverse list.

@BBU In Amazon's KDP pricing page linked from their Terms and Conditions the state: "You must set your Digital Book's List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book... By "list price in any sales channel," we (Amazon) mean the suggested or recommended retail price or, if you sell your book directly to end users, your own sales price, for an edition of the book available outside of our Program." So, my read is their current contract doesn't care about library pricing. I imagine most indie authors, especially those that value the "indie" of indie author, would take strong exception to any move by any retailer to discourage, restrict or punish via pricing-matching authors who support libraries. I don't think Amazon would do ever do that. That would be on the same level as choking cute bunny rabbits.

@ Heather. They don't own the copyright to your books. The future rights to that book are all yours. They just own that copy, and they have the right to check it out, just as they'd check out a physical library book.

@ Brian. You can opt out at any time. Per the post above, "Like all new Smashwords distribution channels, authors and publishers have the option to opt out of Library Direct, if they choose, from the Smashwords Channel Manager." If I'm misunderstanding your question, please reply.

Thanks @David

Brian Kittrell said...

@Mark: Yes, that answers most of the questions (Thanks @David, too), but I'm wondering what happens to books that were purchased by libraries. If a library purchases a title, can they distribute forever without the license expiring? Is there any way to request that they remove a book from distribution or any way to terminate the license somewhere down the road?

I probably won't have mine purchased as part of the deal since my sales at SW haven't traditionally been very high, but I am wondering these things if they ever are (and for others wondering the same things).

Mark Coker said...

@Andrew All valid points. I think it's best to think of this as one of many approaches to curation. It's an approach I'm really excited about, however, because it's reader-driven. It doesn't involve Smashwords, or a committee, or a reviewer, applying their individual judgement of whether a book is quality or not. It doesn't place us in a position of having to decide which literary awards are legit, which are influenced by pay-for-play (some pay for play are legit, and some aren't), or which are influenced by politics, favoritism or membership in an organization, or having to argue with anyone over the merits of their proud award. It's tough to imagine anything more democratic or useful than reader-driven curation. These large catalogs leverage the wisdom of the masses to identify what readers want to read, yet it still captures the wisdom of micro-focused reader communities who have interest in obscure or experimental books that are still outside the mainstream. If a library purchases our top 10,000 or 20,000 bestsellers, they're getting the true commercial bestsellers that occupy our top 1,000 or so titles, and then they're also getting a healthy chunk of the long tail, and in that tail are many great titles that aren't selling thousands of copies each month, but they are selling. Because Smashwords Direct is only available for large opening collection purchases, it encourages libraries to invest in a large and diverse catalog of indie works. Because our average library price for each title will likely come in under $3.00, these low prices allow libraries to establish massive collections at very little cost.

Mark Coker said...

@Brian Yes, this is a forever thing. Unlike print books that wear out and must be replaced, an ebook of digital bits is immortal if the library wishes it so. No, the book cannot be clawed back, much in the same way that once a library purchases a print book, the publisher can't take it back, of if you sell an ebook at an ebook retailer, you can't take the book from customers who purchased it even if you later remove the book from the retailer. The questions here for indie authors are this: Do you want to support libraries? Do you believe that libraries are important for book and author discovery, and do you believe that library borrows yield platform-building benefit that has value to you not measured by your theoretical earnings per borrow (if your book is borrowed only once ever, then your earnings per borrow = the price you sold the book at. If your book is only ever checked out 5 times, then the earnings per borrow is your price divided by 5). Based on our survey of Smashwords authors, most believe that the platform-building potential has long term value. I'd agree. :)

We'll be looking beyond sales at the Smashwords store. We're looking at sales of Smashwords-distributed titles aggregated from the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Baker & Taylor, Kobo, Diesel, the Smashwords store, as well as future channels we add.

Mark Coker said...

@everyone. Thanks for your great questions. Judging from feedback we're receiving everywhere, I know there's a lot of excitement around Library Direct. I'd like to caution everyone to keep your expectations low here. Library Direct is only available to libraries that are pursuing this "Douglas County Model," where they invest the necessary funds and effort to build their own hosted and managed library checkout systems, and such libraries must also make large purchase commitments. The universe of such libraries today is very small, and it's unclear how common this method of ebook collection management will become for libraries. My gut says that most libraries will continue to opt for working with library aggregators such as Baker & Taylor, 3M Cloud Library, and others, because aggregators manage all the headache for the library, and also enable smaller purchases (this is why we will continue to aggressively support our library aggregator partners, both current and future - we want to give all libraries the broadest range of choices). Also keep in mind that the earnings per author, even with these three big deals, will *not* be personally significant to any individual author because the almost $100,000 we're talking about here will be spread across thousands of authors. If you have three books priced at $3.00, and all three library systems purchase it, you're looking at $9.00. The aggregate sum of dollars placed in author pockets (almost $70,000), is significant, which is one of many reasons we're doing this. I imagine a lot of you are probably thinking, "I know Mark, you don't need to tell us, this is all obvious and transparent," though I can almost guarantee everyone here that in the months ahead, there will be some author somewhere complaining on some message board that Library Direct is a bust and they're opting out because they only earned $10 in six months, or whatever. And then there will be others who say, "I can't believe my book only sold three copies, I'm an Amazon bestseller, something's fishy here!" Yes, I've seen it all. When that happens, please help 'em out and point them here. Just because we're transparent and communicate these things, doesn't mean everyone is listening. :)

ChulaSlim said...

I think I'm beginning to see how this might work to our advantage. Since the aggregate amount of copies sold to the libraries will be low, we shouldn't consider it a significant source of revenue.
Free ebooks will achieve maximum exposure because a large amount of library patrons can read the book at once. If it's part of a series, the sequels will accumulate multiple holds, requiring the library to purchase more copies or recommend retail sites the book is available for sale. If the wait time for series sequels becomes too great, more library patrons will go to the retailers to buy copies, resulting in an increase in sales.
Therefore it makes sense to provide free ebooks and attach a price to our more popular books. The price is immaterial so long as the library will purchase the book and limit its distribution..
In other words you're not trying to use the libraries as a revenue source, you're attempting to use them to gain exposure and increase retail sales just as the big publishers did in the past.

archangelbeth said...

While slashing prices on Amazon, due to a library-price, would be like strangling bunnies... Are the prices in a place that uncaring Amazonian spiders could find it, or is there a special library portal that they aren't likely to get into?

Thanks!

Mark Coker said...

@archangelbeth We're only exposing the library prices to the Library Direct libraries making the purchase, and to our library aggregators. Not out of fear of bunny-stranglers, but simply because there's no need to expose the prices to the public. Such exposure would confuse people. :)

Ann Somerville said...

Mark, I'm a huge supporter of libraries so of course I went through and made all my books free.

But then I went and had a closer look at the Open Library project. That's *not* a library, but an archive - and if your books are listed as free, there's no difference between it and me sticking my books up on my website for free. Or, for that matter, letting file sharing have open slather.

I'm absolutely fine with lending, fine with no revenue stream from lending (though I recall that a small payment per loan was part of the survey, and yet is no part of this deal? why?) I am happy with unlimited loans from public libraries.

I am *not* happy to let a third party site archive my books for free in perpetuity where the books can be downloaded at will in a search archive by anyone and everyone with access to a search engine.

I think there should be a way to opt out of this third part of the deal, while still making our books available to libraries. What's the point of supporting libraries if we're cutting our own throats by doing so?

Ann Somerville said...

I should add that I know pricing the books at 99cents will solve that problem, so I've done that.

But I *wanted* to price them for free on principle, because I really, really love libraries.

Sylvia said...

Mark, there is a big difference between reader reviews and professional reviews or staff reviews! No book has hundreds of staff reviews, so I assume you are referring to reader reviews, and it's certainly true with respect to them -- by definitioon if a book has a large number of reader reviews it must be selling, and such reviews are not always reliable. Libraries have never paid any attention to reader reviews.

But there is a list of publications, such as Library Journal, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews, whose reviews are important to them. There are also some review websites now that are considered good review sources, sites where the reviewers are on staff or are picked by the staff. This isn't the same thing as a site where reviews are posted by readers. It's true that few indie ebooks have professional reviews, but they often do have staff reviews from the better review sites, which some librarians personally read.

Also, ebook editions of books that were previously published in print usually have professional reviews of the original editions -- mine do. Authors generally quote from these on the first page of the ebook, so it's simple to tell whether they have any.
But libraries can't look at the first page of an ebook before they buy it, and under the sales rank system they can't even choose according to the professional review publications they have on file. THey can't even order ebook editions of books formerly in their catalogs that wore out. I think that as the program expands, they will not be happy to find that they are getting only bestsellers and can't select other books they know they want.

Mark Coker said...

@ann The Internet Archive is building an internet library. They're a really great organization, with great people behind it, and they're a non-profit. The ebooks will be checked out one at a time, DRM'd, just like a regular library. Unlike a regular library, their collection is available to anyone with an Internet connection, including people who don't have the benefit of a physical local library. I hope you'll reconsider your support for them! For anyone who loves libraries, you've got to love Internet Archive.

Here's an interview with their founder, Brewster Kahle, in the LA Times: The Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle and here's some good background on the organization: About the Internet Archive

Ann Somerville said...

"The ebooks will be checked out one at a time,"

Uh, have you used it? There are free books, and you can download them at will. Other books - presumably ones which are not free - you have to be a member to access.

Could you please clarify if books which are free to libraries are accessible only to logged in members?

"The Internet Archive is building an internet library."

As it *appears* to operate now, it's more like a collection of out of copyright/free books, with some paid ones as well.

"For anyone who loves libraries, you've got to love Internet Archive."

No, I don't. I don't let Archive.org archive my site, but I am happy for people to read it, and I am happy to let libraries have my books but not to make it impossible to sell them through retailers. I don't wish to be guilttripped into doing something which I don't feel benefits me. I support lending, I support libraries. The situation is not clear on Open LIbrary/

Sylvia said...

Ann, the books that can be downloaded free at Open Library are in the public domain because their copyright has expired. They can be reprinted by anyone -- I do freelance editing of nonfiction anthologies on historical topics and we do legally reprint excerpts from Open Library books. This is entirely different from giving your books to libraries free. You still will own the copyrights, and though people can read the books free, it is still illegal for them to copy them -- just as it is illegal for people to copy and distribute books priced "free" at a retail site.

Ann Somerville said...

thanks for your reply, Sylvia, although I would like someone to confirm that books still in copyright still require a login to access. I've never been happy with ARchive.org attitude to other people's data - which is to assume permission rather than to ask for it - so I'm wary about this project under their auspices.

However, since my books doubtless don't fit the 'best selling' or high review threshold, I guess I am unlikely even to be picked up by this scheme. So I am probably worried for no point.

LC_Cooper said...

Relevant here, the following is my post to Mark Coker's announcement of the Pricing Manager tool):

Thank you, Mark and Team, for the added pricing flexibility and increased access to libraries.

How are "free" titles being distributed via the LibraryDirect program? Similarly, how will lowering our prices, via Pricing Manager, drive titles to libraries?

I strongly believe authors should donate to libraries for the common good. I will price my ebooks at "free" also to libraries to grow my base.

Having made this commitment, however, doesn't seem to mean that my titles will get to library patrons any differently than what occurs within a library's legacy process.

For example, whether via LibraryDirect or aggragators, the distribution model is still a "pull" strategy - where libraries cherry pick titles, catagories, and/or best-seller lists. This is a departure from Smashwords' base model, which "pushes" the entire Smashwords catalog to retailers.

As such, what does it matter what I price my ebooks at if my titles aren't selected by libraries and aggregators! What is the process for distributing "free" ebooks to libraries via Smashwords?

My concern is for those of us who don't have titles in the Top 100 (or whatever). The sorting and selection criteria, from what I've read, allows libraries & aggregators to cull from pre-defined sorts. Is "free" one of them? What does less-than-retail pricing (the library-pricing field) do for authors/publishers?

It's a no-brainer for libraries to accept free books as they don't impact a library's budget. As such, unless there's a prestige factor at play, libraries should gobble up the free titles.

You see the problem here - my titles may never reach library patrons unless pushed to libraries.
Ruth Ann Nordin wrote an excellent reply, which I'm paraphrasing here. Authors should get the word out to fans to get into local libraries and request books.
I certainly agree with Ruth's perspective. Successful and branded authors will enjoy the benefits of participating in LibraryDirect and the library-pricing tool within Smashwords, but what about the majority of Smashwords' 45,000 authors, who remain virtually unknown?

The beauty of Smashwords is that it provides a level playing field for both successful and unknown authors. So, my questions target Smashwords' processes and its relationships with aggregators and libraries: How will Smashwords retain its neutrality with an offering like LibraryDirect? How will free and under-priced ebooks get to libraries and their patrons?

Take care,
LC

Mark Coker said...

@Ann. No guilt trips. It's your choice if you want to participate. Smashwords authors have an opportunity to have their copyrighted books listed at Open Library, DRM'd, for one checkout at a time. Checkouts expire after two weeks. It can only be checked out by one person at a time. To check out a book, a reader must register for an account with Open Library.

@LC Free titles are available to Library Direct libraries if they want them. Whether your book is free or not won't significantly impact adoption, because most Smashwords books are already so low cost. On the library aggregator side, I expect that some future aggregators won't support free. You're asking a lot of good questions, but they're also very open ended. As much as I'd love to be able to give you a firm answer, I can't accurately predict how libraries will respond to free, or lower-than-retail, or even higher-than-retail. My sense is that quality and popularity are most important to them, because they want to acquire titles their patrons will enjoy. There's a cost for them to ingest, manage and lend even free books (Adobe charges libraries for each lend, even of free books), so they're unlikely to want free books that aren't going to get read (there's a need in the marketplace for a free open source DRM checkout system that libraries can use, but that's a matter for another time, and some entrepreneur other than yours truly). We're in the very early days of this. I think the important thing to recognize is that noone really knows where things are headed. I do know that libraries will account for a very small portion of overall sales for Smashwords authors in the short term. Longer term, though, I'm really excited about both the platform-building potential and the sales potential. We wouldn't be making these big investments if I felt otherwise. As I mentioned earlier, everyone should keep their expectations low. In terms of your notes on push vs. pull, be careful not to over-analyze. :) We're offering libraries choices and options they never had before. In the other thread regarding the Pricing Manager Ruth Ann Nordin hit the opportunity on the head. Authors have an opportunity to encourage their fans around the world to ask their local libraries to carry the ebooks of their favorite indie authors. Libraries can access these books through Baker & Taylor's Axis 360, and eventually 3M's Cloud Library, and in the months ahead we hope others as well. And if the library wants to adopt the Douglas County model, Library Direct is an option for them.

Robert Nagle said...

This is wonderful news. I was wondering. Does Amazon KDP agreement gauranteeing that Amazon can match the lowest retail price apply to the library price on Smashwords?

I would love to have another way to get into library catalogs aside from Overdrive; at the same time, I'm not sure if it means that Smashwords library price could be adopted by Amazon as part of the KDP agreement.

Robert Nagle

Mark Coker said...

Hi Robert. See my notes above in the comments about KDP.

LC_Cooper said...

Good to see that free ebooks will be available to libraries. I appreciate your comment about "free" not really being free in the DRM environment (additionally, then, there's the I.T. capital and overhead required to maintain growing databases of titles, and systems, processes, and interfaces within an organization almost solely dependent on donations and grants).

BTW - my fan base consists of a weighty disk at the bottom of a pole attached to a machine that cools me off. I don't see how waving it around in the air over my head in front of a librarian will convince her/him to order my ebooks. Call the cops? Yes. Order my ebooks? Um, not so sure :D

Mark, what are the criteria libraries and aggregators can select from? Are they pre-defined, a cafeteria-style plan offered as bundled-option packages with tiered pricing, fully-customizable based on volume desired, or ...? The reason I ask this same question differently is that if price were to drive purchases more than popularity, then the library-pricing option offered to authors makes sense. How does this field actually benefit authors (other than making popular titles more affordable to libraries and aggragators)? If this is the only benefit, then is there a point in unknown authors managing this field?

If I'm reading between the lines correctly, LibraryDirect and the library-price field target established and promising authors, but really offer nothing to Smashwrds' *average* author.

Certainly, you provide the playground, but if no one wants to get on the see-saw with me, then I don't need to get on the bloody thing and make the ride easier by lifting my side of it up off the ground - for no one there. And, yes, I do understand that the library models, as they exist today, are low volume opportunities. I'm just trying to wrap my arms around how the majority of Smashwrds' authors benefit from the library-price field today, or how we can participate, today, in LibraryDirect. I have no expectations, by design, that there's a direct income opportunity. I just want to grow my base, too. It sucks being the kid outside the candy store, watching while others get the goodies. This is where I believed one of Smashwords' strengths came from providing a level playing field.

Thanks,
LC

Sylvia said...

On the Publishers Weekly news site today there's a report of a new policy statement by the American Library Association on what it considers essential in a library ebook business model. The ALA's criteria are:

"Inclusion of all titles: All e-book titles available for sale to the public should also be available to libraries.

"Enduring rights: Libraries should have the option to effectively own the e-books they purchase, including the right to transfer them to another delivery platform and to continue to lend them indefinitely.

"Integration: Libraries need access to metadata and management tools provided by publishers to enhance the discovery of e-books."

In talks with major publishers the two sides are far apart on these issues, but the ALA president says, "These features are ultimately essential to the library’s public role."

Andrew Lawston said...

Well I think it's highly unlikely my low-selling effort will be included in the selection, but I do think this is a great development.

Webistrator said...

Uh, well, it's "Douglas county" and not "Douglas Country".

J. Turbes/Littleton, Douglas county CO

Webistrator said...

...and a FWIW on Douglas county model: Douglas is the wealthiest county in CO and has an overabundance of money for its libraries. Sure, they scratch and claw at each other about budgets, etc., but they still ante up when all is said, irrespective of cost.

This means that whatever model they have built may (indeed, should) not be thought of as one that fits pricewise with less affluent jurisdictions. Douglas is what we here call the "People's Republic of Boulder" but with silver-plated walking heels on their cowboy boots.

Mark Coker said...

@ Webistrator, yikes! Thousands of people have read this an no one noticed! All fixed. thanks.

Shellie Uchtman said...

I see on my page were it says library direct has opted in for 3. However no have been shipped yet. I cannot find the place to sign up for the program and list my price. I do not see it on my dashboard. Where do I sign up at?

Shellie Uchtman said...

I found out how to do it. I have set a price for the libraries. However what does BN does not accept books set to RSP at Smashwords) mean?

Patrick07604 said...

I live in North Jersey and am in the BCCLS library system (75 libraries serving 4 million people) which uses peer review to order books. My daughter's e-book is in Overdrive but will never be ordered by the local library (Hasbrouck Heights, NJ)as they use BCCLS for all e-books. Could I get some help establishing Library Direct in the BCCLS library system?