Another Way to Get Your Ebooks into Libraries

Jordan Dane

Available for Amazon ebook preorder now

Available for Amazon ebook preorder now

 

Interested in getting your ebooks into libraries and get paid? And would you like to do it without forcing libraries to repurchase your digital offering after a restricted loan count as if it has a limited shelf life? You can upload your ebook into Overdrive or get to Overdrive through Smashwords. Both can be cumbersome systems to work with and have their challenges, but I wanted to share a developing alternative.

EbooksAreForever

EbooksAreForever is a platform to help libraries sustainably purchase ebooks from independent authors and publishers. It was launched in March 2014. Since it’s new to me, and I’d been looking for a means to reach out to libraries for my indie pubbed and backlist novels, I thought I’d share what I found.

Ebooksareforever’s philosophy is based around sustainability. They believe libraries should be able to buy ebooks at affordable prices. Since ebooks are digital and not physically degradable items, libraries should be able to own and offer them to loan for eternity.

Authors JA Konrath and August Wainwright co-founded ebooksareforever to sell DRM-free ebooks with no re-licensing restrictions.

“We deliver a curated collection of titles from independent authors and independent publishers and make it as simple as possible for both the author/publisher and the library to interact with the collection and to fairly compensate the author/publisher for every transaction.”

—August Wainwright, co-founder

How does EbooksAreForever work?

I’m excited at the prospect of having a new avenue into libraries, but understandably, libraries need a gatekeeper to ensure quality. How does that work?

Every author and book is approved by a curation team. “We need this because we’re working hand in hand with libraries”, says Wainwright, “and we need to deliver what they’re asking for. We assess by reviews, number of titles the author has available, whether those titles are in a series, quality of cover art, interest in libraries, and genre saturation in our system. We couldn’t be taken seriously if, say, 80% of our titles were romance. It equally wouldn’t work if every book had to have at least 200 reviews on Amazon.”

Good news. If your book is rejected, you can reapply 60 days later.

Each book is purchased by a library on ‘perpetual license’. They pay once and they can use it forever. Only one copy can be checked out at a time.

Will authors get paid?

Yes. Titles are sold to libraries for $7.99 (full-length) and $3.99 to $4.99 for shorter works. Authors receive 70% royalty of every sale.

Ebooksareforever says it hopes to evolve the submission/rejection process once the business grows and the system flourishes, but the current focus is on developing and sustaining a robust system which is a trusted resource and popular with libraries.

They are also working on ‘patron apps’ which will break the business out of the US and allow global libraries to purchase titles with patrons loaning copies using universal apps. This system should also see broader opportunities for author payment. A very exciting prospect.

PROS

• Free to submit

• Author payment

• Set up by authors for authors

CONS

• There are rigorous curation efforts that favor series and higher-profile authors

• For now, it’s limited to US-only

Discussion:
What have you heard about EbooksAreForever?

Any other ways to distribute your ebooks into libraries besides the ones I’ve mentioned?

tmp_4087-TheLastVictim_highres-1601584079The Last Victim available for ebook preorder at a discounted price. After release, will be available in print and ebook formats.

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22 thoughts on “Another Way to Get Your Ebooks into Libraries

  1. sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing this. The world of publishing/book distribution is constantly evolving and I’m excited to see people thinking outside the box to get books into the hands of people in innovative ways.

  2. This was a new one to me. I’ll have to look more. I know about Overdrive (when I submitted, I didn’t meet their criteria, although that was some time ago). One of my publishers targets the library market with hard covers, but they weren’t up to speed on digital publishing back then.

    • Overdrive is a cumbersome system to upload to, I hear. Smashwords can distribute to them, but then you’re dealing with Smashwords.

      There’s another library connection through SELF-E and Library Journal, but they don’t pay authors a penny.

      I liked the idea of EbooksAreForever and the out-of-the-box thinking to meet author’s needs as well as provide libraries an alternative to traditional publishers charging for 20+ loans for the same ebook.

      Thanks, Terry.

  3. Sounds interesting, Jordan. Do you know how many copies of a novel a library would purchase? Or how much an author could expect to make using this program?

    • Hi Elaine

      I don’t know about number of copies. There’s only one loan out per ebook, just as if it’s in print, so no mass distribution because it’s digital. Similar to how ebooks are handled now, if an ebook is on loan to a library patron, it’s checked out until it’s “returned.”

      If a library wants to serve its patrons, they’d buy multiple copies (as they probably do now).

      Through EbooksAreForever, that would be $7.99 for full novel (mentioned above) at 70% royalty per copy.

  4. Really interesting info, Jordan. I had no idea libraries pay for books (I must have thought the Book Fairy delivered them to the stacks) 🙂 Any data so far on what kind of reception this initiative is getting from the libraries?

    • Hi Kathryn. Good question.

      Libraries were pretty upset over traditional houses forcing them to repurchase the same ebook after only 20 loans, as if they degrade on the shelf like print books over time. So giving them an alternative, and more competition, I think they’d be receptive if the quality of books is consistently good. Competition and “novel” ideas is good for the marketplace. My $.02.

  5. Thanks for sharing this interesting new information, Jordan. I’ll be forwarding this post to many e-pubbed friends.

  6. Thanks, this is a new venture that I haven’t heard of before. I’ll have to keep an eye on it. As I’m reissuing my revised backlist titles, this path might be a consideration down the road.

    • Apply now. It won’t hurt with your backlist. It’s not just for new releases, Nancy. Very easy to register and you supposedly hear back in 48 hours.

      I’m so glad I scooped people on this. Thought it was just me “in the dark.”

  7. August Wainwright, co-founder of EbooksAreForever, gave me permission to share his thoughts on the future of his organization and its mission.

    He wrote:
    Not sure exactly what to give you on the future plans, since we’re still very early in the growth stage, but off the top of my head I’d say that libraries and the professionals who work there want indie authors to be represented in their collections. Over 50% of the bestselling ebooks are by independent authors, and patrons want access to these titles. Libraries want local authors highlighted in community collections. They want to help new writers reach new readers. And they want indie authors to be fairly compensated for the work they’ve produced.

    There’s an opportunity here to build a real community between indie authors and librarians, mutually beneficial to both. Creating that community won’t be easy and it won’t happen overnight, but we believe we’re well suited to tackle the problems that currently exist, whether it be from a technical perspective, that of a library and the issues they face, or from indie authors searching for discoverability or increased sales.

  8. I had more questions for August Wainwright and he was gracious enough to reply and gave me permission to share:

    How are the libraries accepting EbooksAreForever? Do they see it as a viable alternative to their present resources or are they in a “wait and see” mode?

    Right now (and this gets glossed over a bit in public reports), we’re still in a beta testing period. A few different places have reported that we officially launched in March of last year (not sure where that originated from – I think it was a misquote in an ALLi report that I clarified to the reporter but he never changed), whereas others have said that we officially launched earlier this year in March of 2015. Both are incorrect.

    We’re still in a beta testing period with a select group of libraries and are tentatively set to launch later this summer / early fall. Currently, we’re undergoing a pilot program with a national library association that will allow us to further test our current features while finishing the patron apps (iOS and Android) needed for full launch.

    Essentially, the issue at play here is that outside of Smashwords/Overdrive, and the new unpaid Self-E model, libraries have no actual way to host ebooks. So if you walked into a local library and you weren’t on Smashwords, there’s little to no chance the library would be able add your ebook, even if they wanted to.

    We have to create the various hosting and infrastructure services needed to allow for all of this, while also finding ways to not charge outrageous platform and setup fees (which is exactly what is required when a library sets up Overdrive or Biblioboard, which handles Self-e).

    To get back to your questions, though, the libraries we’re working with are very accepting of what we’re doing, if not a bit skeptical that we can keep the costs so low for them (but we’re up for that challenge). A vast majority of those we’ve spoken with see it not only as viable, but as the most viable indie specific solution. The reason is a bit complex – and we’re writing a series of blog posts about that very topic, the first of which should go up tonight – but it mostly boils down to the fact that we work hand-in-hand with libraries.

    They’re the ones who’ve asked for features like a curated collection, one-click purchasing, being able to return and easily buy only the un-purchased content, simple pricing, and multiple use/copy models.

    So that’s what we’re working to deliver.

    However, for those libraries that aren’t partners in the current beta, we unfortunately have to put them into a “wait and see” holding pattern until the patron apps are ready.

    How do you reach out to libraries to let them know what’s available?

    Right now, because of the nature of the beta period, we’ve done very little marketing outside of local and national conferences. We’ve been much more focused on building the tech necessary to grow.

    When we do turn our attention to more marketing and advertising, which will be very soon, we’ll mainly approach it in two ways:
    Because the titles offered through EAF are curated, we will be marketing the collection as a whole. This is what libraries want and what gets a little lost in the discussion. To authors, it might seem great that they can simply add their titles to Smashwords and get into Overdrive. That’s a fine opinion to have but it doesn’t reflect the sentiment of librarians and those who make acquisition decisions. When Overdrive added Smashwords, they added over 200,000 indie titles to Overdrive’s already massive marketplace. Librarians were overwhelmed. From the very beginning, they’ve asked for a collection of the best indie titles (those that readers actually want), which is what we’re promising to deliver. In this way, it’s very “set it and forget it” for authors. We attempt to sell everything at once and keep the library from picking individual titles or authors (although they can if they like) so a lot of our marketing will be based on the idea of the overall collection, not individual titles or big name authors. This is also great for indies; when we added Hugh Howey, everybody else in the collection was tied together with Hugh. Same thing with any other big named indie. What helps one, helps the entire group.
    We intend to mobilize the authors within the collection to create a lasting community between indies and libraries. The two groups should be tied at the hip for various reasons and we want to help make that happen. We’re going to provide tons of free content, materials, printables, etc., that authors can tap into to help sell the collection. If you want to try to get your books into all your local or state libraries, then we’ll help make that as easy as we possibly can. Again, if any one author convinces a library to add their ebooks through EAF, you’ll most likely be helping to get hundreds of other indies in as well. That’s a very good thing.

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