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Summary:

Digital self-publishing site Smashwords is making it easier for self-published authors to get their ebooks into libraries. The site is allowing certain libraries to buy Smashwords titles in bulk, and is also adding custom library pricing options for its authors.

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photo: Shutterstock / Gts

Digital self-publishing site Smashwords has launched a new service, Library Direct, that lets some libraries acquire large collections of Smashwords ebooks.

To start, the three library systems using the program are Colorado’s Douglas County libraries, California-based library network Califa and Internet Archive’s free online library Open Library. In order to work with Library Direct, the libraries have to operate their own ebook lending systems. (Smashwords works separately with digital library distributors Baker & Taylor and 3M Cloud.)

On its blog, Smashwords explains how Library Direct works:

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 which 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.

Douglas County, Califa and Open Library will each acquire “some variation” of Smashwords’ top-10,000 bestselling titles, with the three deals totaling around $100,000.

About 45,000 authors and indie publishers work with Smashwords. They can opt out of Library Direct, but they won’t know if their book has been included in the program until it shows up in their Sales and Payment report. “We don’t reveal sales rank on the site, though I suppose now might be a good time to reconsider that,” Smashwords founder and CEO Mark Coker acknowledged in the comments.

Separately, Smashwords officially launched a pricing tool that lets authors set custom pricing for libraries. (Coker told me this feature was coming at BEA.) Of 150 Smashwords authors who completed a survey, over half said they would make their books available to libraries either for free or for a price lower than retail.

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  1. What’s happening in Australia?

  2. JEREMY PODESTA Thursday, August 16, 2012

    HI,
    I HAVE RECENTLY PUBLISHED MY SECOND NOVEL. ” HITCH ” THROUGH SMASHWORDS, BUT HAVE BEEN APPROACHED BY AMAZON VIA KDP-SELECT. THEY DEMAND EXCLUCIVITY,
    WHICH MEANS WITHDRAWING FROM SMASHWORDS AND ALL THEIR ESTABLISHED OUTLETS FOR A MINIMUM PERIOD OF 90 DAYS.
    HOW DOES ONE BALANCE THE PRO’S AND CON’S ?
    JEREMY ( JR ROTHWELL )

  3. Great blog Laura, thanks. I’m new to Smashwords but I do have a really good feeling about it. I am thinking of speaking to my local library about a book event, so will go forewarned after reading this.

    Interested in Jeremy’s comment below also as my book is now in KDP Select and Smashwords. I wasn’t aware that there was a conflict. I had better check this out.

    Nigel

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