You Too Can Be a Local Author: Ebooks in Libraries

For self-published authors, public meet and greet options may be slim, depending on how many bookstores are left in your neighborhood. Now, there are new opportunities on the horizon. From Library Journal:

The San Mateo-based Califa Group, which is the largest library network in California, has made major strides in its project to create an ebook ownership model along the same lines as the Douglas County Libraries in Colorado.

If you publish with Smashwords, your eBook could one day be in a library in one of two ways:

Under the deal with Smashwords, a four-year-old rapidly rising self-publishing platform which recently reported annual revenues of $12 million, Califa will be able to purchase about 10,000 of the company’s top titles for about $3 a title. Califa will house the files on an Adobe Content Server …

In addition to allowing Califa to own the ebooks, Smashwords is collaborating with Califa to allow its patrons to self-publish. A patron will be able to use the Califa interface, being built with VuFind, to upload their manuscripts to Smashwords, which then will make the books available to its retail partners (such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Sony). But Smashwords will also notify Califa that a patron has uploaded a title and see if Califa wishes to purchase the title for its collection.

Which means you could do public readings of your book at your local library even if you’re not currently a top-seller at Smashwords.

“My head is spinning a bit and I’m getting an appreciation of the complexity this involves, but everyone is very excited about it,” said Heather Teysko, Califa’s director of innovation and development. …

“It’s great, the whole idea of having libraries becoming community publishing partners,” Teysko said. “We always knew we wanted to have a self-publishing arm as part of this.”

It is complicated, be sure to read the whole article a few times. But wait, there’s more. From Califa’s blog:

Also not in the article is the fact that we’re having a Naming Contest for the service.  Submit a great name, and if we choose yours, you will win an iPad!

I’m wondering how library patrons will get along with Adobe readers but have read elsewhere that many libraries are starting to loan out Kindles.

  • This sounds promising to me. How do we get the libraries in the other states to join this program? I’d like to see my ebooks in libraries in Chicago, IL, my hometown. So I don’t get paid. I get what’s more important: attention.

    • Ron, the article in Library Journal (linked to above) says that the pilot phase for the project will be in Contra Costa County (California) this fall. The State of Kansas is also getting involved so their libraries may be next. From there, Califa hopes to go national. There’s a link to Califa’s blog above, you might want to subscribe to get updates on how the pilot is going.

      I agree about the attention being valuable. The opportunity for ebook authors to interact with the community at a local library is exciting.