In Part 1 of Book Discovery at the Library we covered some traditional ways that librarians may promote your book(s). In this section we’re going to look at four companies that offer librarians a new way to make the books in their collections more discoverable at the library.
For you as an author this is a plus for selling your book – studies show that patrons who find an author’s book in the library often buy other books from that same author. They also recommend authors’ books they like to friends who may buy those book titles to read.
Short of appearing as an author on a TV show such as Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show,” getting your book touted by a library is the best word-of-mouth publicity for it!
LIBRARY DISCOVERY SERVICES
Nowadays, busy librarians can subscribe to book discovery services. Here are four companies that provide discovery services to librarians. These companies sell subscriptions to their online “knowledge bases” to libraries that can afford them. Here’s a brief synopsis of some of these services.
EBSCO Information Services is a long-standing supplier of magazine and journal subscriptions to libraries. Now it also offers library patrons access to research databases, ebooks, and digital archival materials.
Ebsco’s database has a unified index and can even be integrated with a library’s online catalog (called an OPAC, short for Online Public Access Catalog.)
Ebsco Discovery Service (EDS) is particularly useful for college students and you if you are marketing your book to students.
Primo from Ex Libris Group
Ex Libris Group is a worldwide supplier of library computer (i.e., “automation”) systems. Among many other things, Primo offers libraries a Search box for its databases so they can be integrated into web pages, blogs, and social networks used by librarians in order to increase the visibility on the Web of items in a library’s collection.
Summon, from Serials Solution (a ProQuest Business)
ProQuest is another library vendor that has been around for a long time. It started with online research-article databases and has expanded to may other technology packages for all kinds of libraries.
Among its strengths, Summon stresses its ability to serve patrons with cellphones and other mobile devices. It also claims to be fastest at delivering discoverability.
WorldCat Discovery Services, from OCLC
You’ve probably heard about WordCat’s catalog. This is where you can see if a library has bought your book. That information can be really useful to you when promoting your book.
For example, in your promotional materials that you send out to librarians likely to buy a book such as yours, you can mention names of other libraries that have bought your book.
You can also get the catalog record from a library that has your book and send it along with a review copy of your book to book review journals and magazines. (Be sure to query the editor of a review source or read its guidelines for submission of review copies before sending anything to a review editor.)
OCLC, the creator of WorldCat, is a cooperatively-owned book cataloging service run by and for US librarians. OCLC has been around for nearly a century. It catalogs even more book titles than the US Library of Congress does.
OCLC”s brand new database is huge and contains all sorts of materials, including video and other media for use by all age levels of patrons.
What does all this mean for your book?
These gigantic discovery services for libraries enable librarians to select which things they want their patrons to discover. Librarians can tailor their book promotion and discovery efforts to include the kinds of books they know their patrons like.
Many patrons believe that libraries should keep all books they’ve ever bought. There is no library that can afford to do this with print books. There is no library in existence that has every book ever written either. Not even the Library of Congress, the biggest library in the world, comes close to this ideal.
However, digital books have an almost infinite lifespan. And because library discovery services are so large, we can hope that individual libraries will soon be able to provide every reader with almost any book, magazine, or ebook in existence through the “interlibrary loan” networks that libraries have built for sharing library materials with each other.
Why should you care if your book is made available to libraries through a library discovery service? Librarians who have bought an author’s work once will be more likely do it again. Librarians are also more likely to buy a book if other librarians have bought it for their librariwa.
If you’ve written a book, rather than hope for a “one-hit wonder,”consider writing more books on your favorite topic(s). This, along with teaching writing classes or offering business services related to their books, is how most professional authors make a living at writing!