70% of library users want self-published books in their library

Up to 70% of library users want self-published titles to be available in their libraries and a new initiative from the company behind Library Journal aims to help authors in the library sector.

Libraries are a massive market for self-published authors, offering the potential for tens of thousands of sales and building a widespread engagement with readers. The recent Book Expo America in New York included a presentation within uPublishU on Moving Beyond Online Sales: Marketing to Libraries.

Ian Singer, vice-president and group publisher at Library Journals, said data from a survey of library users found that up to 70% of patrons want self-published titles to be available in their libraries.

He set out the details of a new service recently unveiled by Library Journals – Self-E, a database of self-published books chosen by Library Journal, which will be free for authors.

Self-E is based on Library Journal’s BiblioBoard platform and the first of the fiction modules will be online by the end of the year.

It is a discovery platform designed to expose ebooks to more readers through the public library, locally or nationwide.

Authors whose ebooks are selected by Library Journal for inclusion in the Self-e modules can use a digital badge promoting their inclusion to potential readers. Ebooks that are not selected will still be accessible to local library patrons via state-specific modules.

The whole scheme is free and there is no cost to take part and distribution via the Self-e platform is royalty-free.

The scheme doesn’t restrict authors or publishers from promoting and selling their ebooks to any market, including the public library market through other vendors, so, for example, you’d be free to enter the Self-e scheme as well as have your book available to libraries through Smashwords’ link-up with OverDrive.

If your ebook is not selected for Library Journal’s Self-e modules, you can still opt to include it in a statewide module with other local authors.

The Self-e submission process is admirably simple, with ebook files in PDF or ePub format plus metadata to help in the curation and discovery of your ebook.

If the ebooks are in the correct format and pass the technical requirements, they will go through a comprehensive curation process. Submissions are being taken throughout the summer and fall and the first selections will be made later this year. Authors will be notified by email if their ebook has been selected and in which module it will appear.

LJ is setting up a beta program to build a transparent system for authors to see how many people are reading their ebooks and where those people are and will work with the media to spotlight Self-e’s most popular ebooks.

At the BEA presentation, Lori Bennett of Nelson Literary Agency, said, “Quality ebook production counts more in libraries than in any other e-content market.” She said authors who can’t create a quality book themselves should hire someone to do it for them.

Librarian Jessica West, of Rust Library in Virginia, told the audience her library had set up its own imprint, Symington Press, powered by the Espresso Book Machine. The library charges only for printing costs, which are about $5-$25 per copy for a book with a colour cover and black-and-white interior.

You can read more about the BEA presentation at Library Journal

More about Self-e submissions