Getting self-published books into libraries is totally doable today. And, we highly recommend it to increase your chances of being discovered by more people. We’ve been in digital publishing for quite some time, and the one advice we give indies is to maximize their selling potential by distributing wide to many places possible. A library is a great channel to have your book in -- we share why and how to do it with three helpful tips below.
PublishDrive distributes books to 240K libraries. Our authors and publishers saw at least 20% growth in sales across markets and stores. Try us out:
Benefits of library distribution
2020 jump started an enormous boom in online services like movie-streaming, video games, and books. Starting in March 2020, digital book sales increased by at least 20% everywhere (while prints suffered). In particular, we saw digital library sales explode by 55%.
As schools have gone online or countries at large have shut down, for the time being, digital books are wanted. In a span of one year, see which book channel achieved the most growth:
From 2019 to 2020, digital book sales through PublishDrive went up by 60% overall. The growth significantly came from stores with mobile and tablet device-related apps or subscription services, and international library networks.
(FYI, these growing sales numbers are extra beneficial for PublishDrive indies who keep 100% royalties. Since we don’t take any commission, publishers get the same royalties as selling directly to stores. See our free case study.)
So besides the high growth rates, why libraries? While times are tough for many of us around the globe, for the reader, a library option is a low-cost way to read. It also gives the reader a low-risk way to try out a new author’s book. For you? It raises your discoverability and you collect lovely royalty rates.
For example, Hoopla (one of our library partners) triggers a sale whenever a reader borrows a title. This is a great way to earn a royalty percentage based on the cost per checkout. Another one of our partners, Bibliotheca, uses the standard library model (pay per use) to buy books. While readers don’t pay to check out a title, you’ll still receive royalties (based on a higher price).
How to start distributing to libraries? We have three tips for you below.
Tip #1: Know what your audience wants
Like any important venture, do a bit of research first. Spend time reviewing bestselling aspects in your book genre: book title, cover design, description, and pricing.
Also, these are the different kind of libraries you should know about:
- Public: Government-funded local and national libraries serving the general public.
- Academic: Involves college and university markets.
- School: Mostly for children or young adult books
- Corporate: Privately run and focused on a specific purpose like medical.
After the basics, ask yourself if you understand the readers you are hoping to reach in libraries. On the whole, your library target audience looks for nonfiction, academic, textbook, and juvenile (YA) fiction.
Try to understand your potential readers and get specific. Can you envision what they like or which digital formats they enjoy most? Read more tips on understanding your market here.
Tip #2: Treat library distribution as your marketing
As a self-published author, you can talk to local libraries directly to see if they will accept submissions from local authors. Indie authors have done this. Be aware this method takes time and effort though -- and for not that many sales. With no track record, it’s tough to get a library to invest in your book.
What to do? Think of libraries as marketing, because it comes down to discoverability. And it’s completely worth distributing in libraries. To re-emphasize the stats from above: there is a growing demand for borrowing books online. It’s a busy time for digital libraries. People want digital content.
Additionally, there’s a whole bunch of marketing opportunities with libraries. Hoopla is a digital library platform designed with discoverability in mind. They offer promo opportunities, email campaigns, app push notifications, and much more to get your work in front of readers.
Typically, a library uses a thematic merchandising calendar for newsletters to feature various published books or book reviews. Just so you know, there are services (like ours) to get featured in these newsletters (our indies got 5x more sales this way), plus other promo options:
Tip #3: Go global to many libraries, digitally
We are in a time where English-language content is in most demand globally. We are also in a time where digital formats have become the norm. We say, distribute internationally to all digital libraries you can.
How to cover such large feats? You can use an aggregator company like PublishDrive to get your book out to tons of library catalogs, over 240K! Our library partners include key players like OverDrive, Hoopla, Bibliotheca, Odilo, and Mackin. They provide book borrowing for not just individuals, but institutions like public libraries, schools, universities, or corporate libraries.
Here’s a bit more on why our international library partners are the best out there:
- Overdrive is the world’s largest library ebook platform. Its system has over 40,000 public libraries and schools.
- Hoopla has 2,000 library systems, 5 million registered users, and 100,000 new registrations per month.
- Bibliotheca is a digital lending platform used by more than 30,000 libraries around the world.
- CNPIEC is a network of Chinese libraries, where demand for Western content is enormous.
- Gardners is the UK's largest book wholesaler.
- Odilo is another leading digital library platform, mainly focused in the Spanish market.
Take a look at Odilo’s growth in 2020:
Furthermore, our partnerships provide marketing opportunities such as in-store promos with OverDrive or newsletter features with Bibliotheca, 24symbols, and Odilo.
+1 Tip: About library pricing
By the way, when it comes to pricing, libraries usually have different models for readers. Pricing can depend on how long a book is lent out. For this reason, PublishDrive automatically generates and calculates various pricing models with thousands of library partners (so you don’t have to deal with them yourself.)
With a tremendous 55% increase in digital library sales via PublishDrive in 2020, we encourage you to go global to thousands of libraries. It’s entirely free to try our platform for 14 days (we have some of the best plans in ebook distribution). Create an account today and start distributing to libraries and more: