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California libraries close to ebooks deal with self-pub site Smashwords

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Califa, California’s largest library network, is about to strike an ebook deal with self-publishing site Smashwords, Library Journal reports. The partnership would bring about 10,000 self-published ebooks into Califa’s 220 libraries.

Califa would “purchase about 10,000 of the company’s top titles for about $3 a title.” Some of the titles could cost less, though: Smashwords CEO Mark Coker recently told me that the company will soon allow its authors to set their own ebook prices, and said “a lot of them are going to want to offer libraries lower pricing…or will want to offer their books for free to libraries.”

Califa and Smashwords are also working on a self-publishing program for library patrons. Smashwords marketing manager Jim Azevedo explains to me how that would work:

Smashwords and Califa will collaborate to create local library publishing portals that will allow patrons to publish and distribute ebooks through Smashwords for acquisition and listing by their local library.  These ebooks will also be available for sale through the Smashwords distribution network, which includes Apple (s AAPL), Barnes & Noble (s BKS), Sony (s SNE), Kobo, Baker & Taylor’s Blio, and Diesel.  The books will also be distributed to the new Smashwords library aggregators including Baker & Taylor’s Axis360 platform and 3M’s Cloud Library platform (3M announced the Smashwords relationship earlier this month at BEA).

Heather Teysko, Califa’s director of innovation and development, tells Library Journal, “It’s great, the whole idea of having libraries becoming community publishing partners. We always knew we wanted to have a self-publishing arm as part of this.” (Similarly, many indie bookstores are embracing self-publishing as their customers use Espresso Book Machines to print their own titles.)

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