Libraries are getting screwed on ebooks even worse than consumers. Where a consumer has to worry about content vanishing with a deceased ebookstore or an expired contract, libraries have to contend with annual fees, expiring licenses, and mysterious technical glitches.
JA Konrath wants to help. Around this time last year he and August Wainwright launched eBooksAreForever, a new startup which offers a library-friendly ebook solution.
Based on the idea that it's more important to get ebooks into libraries than make a buck off of them, eBooksAreForever sells DRM-free ebooks under a "forever" license - meaning libraries never have to re-license at set time intervals, or after a certain number of uses.
In the long run they want to offer the ebooks DRM-free under a "one copy, many user" license, but right now the ebooks are still limited to one user, one copy.
The startup has been in a quiet beta test since May of last year, and on Thursday Konrath
formally launched the service publicly invited indie authors to join. He reports that EAF now has just under 1000 ebooks in its collection.
According to EAF's blog, this includes titles from successful authors like Hugh Howey, Belle Andre, HM Ward, Melissa Foster, Barry Eisler, JA Konrath, Bob Mayer, and Barbara Freethy. The company has been carefully selecting the authors which have been allowed to join the service, resulting in a curated catalog which focuses more on quality than on quantity.
And that, folks, is just one of the many differences between EAF and the last distributor to offer this type of deal to libraries.
As you may recall, way back in August 2012 Smashwords launched a service called Library Direct which enabled libraries to buy a slate of the top 10k, 20k, 50k, etc, popular titles in the Smashwords catalog. The ebooks were sold with DRM and limited to a "one copy, one user" license.
That service never came to much, leading Smashwords to decide to instead distribute through OverDrive and 3M Cloud Library. When I queried Mark Coker, he said that SW changed direction because"the Douglas County model has been slow to take hold".
Douglas County refers to a particular library system in Colorado which is best known for running its own ebook DRM server. DCPL buys ebooks direct from publishers, checks them out to patrons, and avoids having to pay OverDrive's annual hosting fees for those ebooks. (Instead, they pay a license fee to Adobe.)
Coker is correct in that the Douglas County model has been slow to catch on, and it's easy to see how that stymied Smashwords' plans to sell direct, but luckily this issue won't have as much of an impact on EAF.
Since EAF sells ebooks with almost no restrictions, libraries can host the ebook catalog without having to shell out additional fees to support DRM. This should reduce costs and technical headaches considerably.
images by state_libraryofohio,