Smashwords Sells 10 Thousand eBooks to Douglas County Libraries

newsflash_logo[1]A few of the major US publishers might not have much interest in selling ebooks to libraries, and as frustrating as that may be for ebook lovers it does leave the market open to everyone else. That includes the 58,800 authors and publishers distributed by Smashwords.

Late last week the Colorado-based Douglas County Libraries  announced that they had acquired 10,000 ebook titles from Smashwords, nearly doubling their total number of ebook files owned to 21,000.

This sale was worth around $40,000 in total. It is the single largest sale which Smashwords has made via their Library Direct program, which launched back in August. DCL was one of the initial launch partners, along with Califa and the Open Library.

When it comes to ebooks, DCL is something of an oddity. They’re well-known for being the champions of a new library ebook model where the libraries actually buy the ebooks and own them, rather than pay a monthly fee to service providers like OverDrive, Axis 360, or 3m Cloud Library. DCL set up their own servers to support their ebook collection, a project which they started in Fall 2011.

As you can tell from the paltry size of their collection, DCL has not had much interest from legacy publishers, though that could be due to the greater hassle for the publisher having to deal directly with the library rather than via an ebook distributor.

Smashwords is slowly building support for Library Direct, and before this deal they had sold around a thousand titles via Library Direct. That’s not a bad figure for such a short period of time; remember, the DCL deal took 4 months to execute o clearly these things take time.

In any case, today’s news is a win all around. Smashwords’ authors find new readers, and DCL gets a much better price than can be found from Penguin or Random House. “We’re eager to connect our readers to fresh streams of digital content,” said Jamie LaRue, director of Douglas County Libraries. “Smashword’s average price per title [about $4] allows us to do that more readily than we could from the big publishers [now charging as much as $84 per e-book]. This looks like the beginning of a wonderful friendship.”

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. dave7 January, 2013

    Cheap isn’t always a good deal. I wonder how many of those books would be ones that their library patrons would have sought out? Seems as though DCL will need to do some aggressive promotion if they want their users to even be aware that those books are available.

  2. carmen webster buxton7 January, 2013

    The success of this will depend on what’s driving library ebook borrowing. A friend of mine is a librarian in a DC-area suburban county. She often show folks how to see what’s available to borrow digitally, and lately, it has been a very small list because the library has very little money to buy new ebooks right now, but lots of folks now have Kindles and other ereaders and want to read (free) library books on them. If the list got longer from Smashwords books, library patrons might be a road to readership for self-published authors.

    Mark Coker is a smart guy, and one thing he did when he set up the Library direct deal was to allow his authors to set different prices for sales to libraries than for sale from Smashwords. You can even make a book free to libraries, which is great of you have books in a series and want to give away the first one.

  3. Piccoli passi avanti nell’offerta di ebook in biblioteca, negli Stati Uniti | Tropico del Libro30 January, 2013

    […] fa, hanno preso nuovi provvedimenti per supplire alla scarsa offerta digitale dei grandi editori, acquistando 10.000 titoli ebook dalla piattaforma SmashWords alla cifra record (per SmashWords) di 40.000 […]

  4. […] and OverDrive, but they also buy ebooks directly from publishers (and some distributors like Smashwords). As of last November, the DCL had a collection of 45,000 titles, including 27,000 titles which […]

  5. […] and OverDrive, but they also buy ebooks directly from publishers (and some distributors like Smashwords). As of last November, the DCL had a collection of 45,000 titles, including 27,000 titles which […]

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