It’s only a couple of days since we carried the news that Smashwords titles had finally been liberated from the Self-Published Ghetto (a section of OverDrive accessible only by librarians) and were finally appearing in the public OverDrive catalogue. (LINK)
Since then another 2,000 Smashwords titles have materialized in the public catalogue and we are optimistic, if by no means yet certain, that all the Smashwords titles will eventually filter through.
Eventually being a key word here.
Smashwords sent some 200,000 (now 215,000) titles to OverDrive, but as we reported back in July, many were not even reaching the indie ghetto, let alone the public OverDrive store. (LINK)
It transpires many of those 200,000 titles still have yet to reach OverDrive.
The Digital Reader expanded on the story and Mark Coker stepped in to explain that while 215,000 titles have been sent, OverDrive have so far only ingested 132,000 of them, so some 80,000 Smashwords titles have yet to reach OverDrive at all, let alone the public catalogue. (LINK)
Interestingly Coker says,
“OverDrive’s website is designed to be public-facing for patrons of a particular library, but not public facing for a view into their entire catalog. This means you can’t easily determine which books are in their catalog.”
This is at variance with what I see, which is the full OverDrive catalogue with an option then to search whether a given title is available in a particular library. The logic being if OverDrive have it then any OverDrive partner library can order it.
Coker makes clear the indie ghetto is not going anywhere any time soon:
“OverDrive tells me they’ve received positive feedback from libraries regarding the segregation. This means the “ghetto” is unlikely to be abolished any time soon unless libraries (OverDrive’s customers) voice their opposition to it. Our position, which we have shared on numerous occasions with our friends at OverDrive, is that such segregation is a disservice to libraries and their patrons, not to mention it’s insulting to the indie authors and publishers we represent.”
“Despite the delays and segregation, I remain excited about the OverDrive relationship, and I’m optimistic it will become an increasingly important channel for Smashwords authors and publishers in the years ahead.”
We concur entirely.
The Smashwords-OverDrive partnership may have got off to a bad start, and yes, all Smashwords erotica titles are still excluded. See the EBUK post on Smashwords’ dark side to understand why. (LINK)
But for those that have had titles sent to OverDrive it looks increasingly likely – not guaranteed yet, but likely – that you will all, eventually, get a chance to be discovered by OverDrive-partner library users.
What should you do now?
First, keep an eye on the OverDrive catalogue. (LINK)
Check back every week and see if maybe some of your titles have been pulled through.
If they have, do a spontaneous happy dance (best not to check on your smartphone while in the supermarket queue). and break open the champagne (best to pay for it first if still in said supermarket). And then promote!
Mark Coker has some suggestions on the Smashwords site for partnering with your local library. (LINK)
Most importantly, simply let people know your ebooks are available from libraries, and make sure the OverDrive links to the titles are on your website.
Include the OverDrive links in tweets and FB promotions, etc.
Then get in touch with your local libraries and let them know your ebooks are available.
Most local libraries love to promote local authors. For indies that’s been a hard sell with many librarians not too keen on the idea of self-publishing. But when your books are there alongside the big names in the OverDrive public catalogue that changes everything.
Make the most of it.
Above all, promote the very fact that libraries have ebooks available. Far too many readers are still unaware of this.
These past few years suggestions that indies target libraries have been largely met with derision. Libraries, like book stores, were all dinosaurs and all going to close. Only a handful of libraries sold digital, the story went, so why bother.
Perceptions began to change when OverDrive reported its 2013 stats – OverDrive libraries had seen 100 million digital downloads in 2013.
We’ve no idea what the 2014 number will be but safe to say it will be much, much higher.
What’s important to understand is that, at risk of stating the obvious, library users use libraries. They may also buy from book stores, but every borrow they make from a library is a sale not made by a bookstore.
No, there’s no guarantee anyone will borrow your book from the library. But there is an absolute 100% guarantee they will not if you are not there.
Print borrows account for substantial portions of print book revenue for trad-pubbed authors and publishers. The same goes for ebook borrows.
Trad pub has been raking it in while we looked on enviously, or more likely looked the other way.
Which was fair enough. Then.
Until now it’s not been easy for indies to gain access to this lucrative income steam.
Going direct to OverDrive is not a simple process and the only other easy route – Ebook Partnership – involves upfront costs. That said, Ebook Partnership also get you into the OverDrive retail stores like Waterstone’s and kalahari which the Smashwords deal does not.
But be in no doubt that, if all goes well and the Smashwords indie titles now being delivered eventually feed through to the OverDrive public catalogue, then this is a major breakthrough for Smashwords, and major opportunity for Smashwords authors to reach new readers.