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Library Journal, BiblioBoard Launch a Self-Pub eBook Discovery Service for Libraries

web_banner_self-e[1]Ask any author and they’ll tell you that getting noticed is difficult. Whether it’s bookstores or ebookstores, getting and keeping the attention of potential buyers can be tricky, and this truism extends to the library ebook market as well.

And that’s where BiblioBoard and Library Journal come in. Today they are announcing the launch of Self-e, a new discovery service that is designed to help librarians find good self-published ebooks.

Using Self-e’s submission portal, authors can submit their self-published ebooks for review by Library Journal. The ebooks will be put through a comprehensive curation process where LJ will evaluate and select the most interesting titles. The ebooks will be made available to libraries via BiblioBoard in curated genre collections that participating public libraries can make available to their patrons all over the United States.

This is as much a distribution deal as it is discovery, so I think it is worth noting that this is not quite the same deal as what Smashwords and OverDrive announced earlier this week. BiblioBoard operates under ReadersFirst principles, which in this case means that the ebooks will be available to library patrons without limit or the need to check out or return a title.

As a user, I like this plan, but this might not appeal to all authors. Fortunately Self-e is nonexclusive, giving authors the option of also distributing through Smashwords or other platforms.

There’s no cost to the author, and any title not accepted for the curated collections can still be submitted for the localized state modules with other local authors. Library Journal will not curate these modules, but will be offering them in order to provide libraries with an opportunity to highlight  ebooks by local authors.

Self-e is available today, and the first collections are set to be released early next year.

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David Gaughran May 23, 2014 um 5:13 am

Hi Nate, I was reading about this the other day, and I’ve been all over their site and Biblioboard’s site and I can’t find any reference at all to authors getting paid for making their books available on this platform.

Am I missing something obvious?

Nate Hoffelder May 23, 2014 um 6:21 am

I did not see it either. This is something that needs to be checked when uploading the ebook.

David Gaughran May 23, 2014 um 6:37 am

I’m curious if authors actually do get paid, or whether they think the exposure element going to sell it to us (while they actually sell the books to the libraries). If that’s the case, I’m staying well clear.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez May 23, 2014 um 7:17 am

"There is no cost to participate. Distribution via the SELF-e platform is royalty-free."

SELF-e is intended for discovery via public libraries, so most authors will approach it as a marketing channel, leveraging backlist to reach new readers, driving them to purchase newer work. It will also offer a path to donate one’s work to their library for statewide access, an option which doesn’t currently exist. Both are explicitly developed to be a free service for authors at a time where everyone is coming up with ways to sell them services. It will also help solve a major problem for libraries that doesn’t require major reallocations of their materials budgets as they will be purchasing access to curated collections (and statewide collections), not individual ebooks.

It’s not going to be appeal to everyone, nor is it meant to.

David Gaughran May 23, 2014 um 8:07 am

Thanks for the explanation. Can you tell me if Biblioboard will be selling this content to libraries or providing it for free?

If my tone above and here sounds suspicious, that’s because I am – and I’ll explain why. You work for Library Journal, can I ask you if Library Journal plans to drop its links to Author Solutions?

I’m particularly concerned that Library Journal sells blocks of advertising to Author Solutions and does’t seem to care that Author Solutions re-sell those ad spots to its customers at vastly inflated prices.

Authors tend to be suspicious of any company with links to an exploitative vanity press – especially one that is currently the subject of a class action for deceptive practices.

I should also note that the papers filed by the plaintiff’s *specifically mention* these kinds of marketing packages and how authors are browbeaten into purchasing them through all sorts of emotional pressure and false promises of huge sales returns.

It would be great to hear if Library Journal is considering following the lead of The Bookseller and ending its association with Author Solutions by refusing to take their ads.

Martin Lake May 23, 2014 um 8:41 am

Great and timely questions, David. There are so many channels opening up it is vital to keep vigilent. You do a great job for writers.

Nate Hoffelder May 23, 2014 um 9:13 am


Thanks for following up on the ASI relationship, David. I didn’t think about that.

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