Friday, August 31

Joe Konrath: Selling Your Books To Libraries

Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch are going to sell their entire ebook catalogues to the Harris County Public Library. These are their terms:
1. Ebooks are $3.99

2. No DRM.

3. The library only needs to buy one ebook of a title, and then they can make as many copies as they need for all of their patrons and all of their branches.

4. The library owns the rights to use that ebook forever.

5. The library can use it an any format they need; mobi, epub, pdf, lit, etc. And when new formats arise, they're’re free to convert it to the new format.

In short, the library buys one copy, and never has to buy it again.
Joe and Blake said they'd extend these terms to any library.

That's a petty good deal! I don't know much about this area but I believe that the usual practice with ebooks is only a certain number of copies can be loaned out at a time and each book can only be loaned out a certain number of times before the library has to renew the license.

Here's how the librarians at the Harris County Public Library put it:
Libraries are not able to purchase all of the eBooks we would like to purchase due to publisher and author concerns about copyright protection in the digital format.  Only two of the big six publishers will sell eBooks to libraries, and those pricing models either limit us to a low number of checkouts or charge us more than twice the retail price for a book.  Very few picture books are available for us to purchase, even though small children are a large part of our customer base and we often use digital books in storytimes.  With adult fiction titles, we can’t always offer complete series because of format availability or publisher restrictions.  Some publishers would even like to implement a plan that would force people to come to the library to check out eBooks, rather than being able to do it online, which kind of defeats the purpose.  Librarians are also making the adjustment to focus on providing access for our customers through leasing or subscription, rather than only owning items to be a permanent part of a collection.

Better Public Experience 
Because of the way we have to purchase electronic content, our customers often have to jump back and forth online through multiple access points, instead of simply finding a book and clicking to check it out.  This can make the borrowing experience quite confusing and complex.  Then add the confusion about which formats match which devices.  We’re not just providing materials for one type of device, our customers use Kindles and Nooks and iPads and cell phones and devices we probably haven’t heard of yet.  We are constantly learning about all of these devices because we are now free tech support for the public.  Our customers show up with their new eReader in a box, and we teach them how to use it.
I would urge everyone even the least interested in how libraries have changed over the years and the pressures they are under to read the entirety of Joe's post. I've only excerpted from the letter the librarians at the Harris County Public Library sent Joe and it's well worth reading in it's entirety: Ebooks For Libraries

Other articles you may be interested in:
- Stephen King's Latest Book: A Face In The Crowd 
- Fifty Shades of Grey - Oh My!
- Book Promotion: Where's The Line?

Photo credit: Friar Balsam


  1. I offered my books to the Harris County Public Library. This is the response I got:

    "Thank you for contacting us about selling your eBooks to the Harris County Public Library. We are working through the responses and we will be getting back with everyone individually within the next week or so.

    "In the meantime, we wanted to make you aware of a few rules we have to follow when purchasing titles to add to our eBook collection.

    "1. We cannot purchase from Amazon in order to get the title. When we purchase a title from them, it is tied to an account and Amazon does not give us permission to circulate the title. If you wish to have DRM on the title, the title will need to be in the EPUB format. Amazon titles are in the Mobi format. EPUB is also important to us as it makes reading the title in large print extensible to our customers who require that sized print. If EPUB is not possible, we may be able to do PDF.

    "2. At this time, in order to purchase a title directly from an author or publisher, they need to be able to accept a Purchase order. This is a County policy and not something we can easily change.

    "3. Not all titles will be added to the collection. We will need as much information as possible on the work in order to make a decision.

    "4. Our system is still months away from going live. We are currently working toward building the opening day collection while our IT department works on the technology side. We hope to have a robust collection available when we ‘turn on the servers’ possibly by summer 2013.

    "Again, we thank you for your interest and we will be getting back to you with in the next week or so.

    "Michael Saperstein
    Multimedia Selection Librarian
    Harris County Public Library
    8080 El Rio Street
    Houston, Texas 77054-4187

    "Mike Saperstein
    Multimedia Selection Librarian
    Harris County Public Library"

    1. Interesting! I wonder what is involved in accepting a purchase order. Thanks for sharing, Antares.


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