Selling E-books in the Academic Market

August 2006
by Steven Karris

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With the prices of textbooks
skyrocketing and libraries coping with lean budgets and limited shelf space,
e-book sales for academic titles can only go up. Through ebrary, NetLibrary,
Content Reserve (OverDrive), and books24×7, some of my titles are now available
in more than 300 academic libraries in the United States, and I recently signed
up with Coutts Library Services, which has formed a division similar to ebrary
and NetLibrary to sell e-books to Europe and other countries.

 

I recommend that all PMA members
with titles suitable for academic libraries look into those sources of income.
Do not be afraid of being stigmatized if you are a self-publisher with only one
title. I am a self-publisher myself, and a one-person operation, even though I
now have nine titles.

 

Instead of selling individual
copies to consumers, companies such as ebrary, NetLibrary, and Content Reserve
keep titles from selected publishers in their databases and make the content available
online, in whole or in part, to libraries and large organizations. They charge
by the page and time usage, and pay royalties to publishers (typically 10
percent of the price a publisher sets) on a quarterly basis with a detailed
statement. To the best of my knowledge, none of these companies requires
exclusivity.

 

Agreements with them typically run
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