Is library distribution in your book’s future?

Amy Collins, New Shelves BooksAmy Collins, my friend in real life (who lives near me so I get to see her all the time!), is the former director of sales at Adams Media and special sales director for its parent company, F+W Media. In 2006, she started the successful book sales and marketing company, New Shelves Books. Over the years, she has sold to Barnes & Noble, Target, Costco, Borders, Books-A-Million, and Wal-Mart and become a trusted partner and recommended sales consultant for some of the largest book and library retailers and wholesalers in the industry. In the past 20 years, Amy has sold more than three million books into the bookstore, library, and chain store markets for small and mid-sized publishers. Amy and her training partner recently presented a free training session for Build Book Buzz on how to sell to libraries; watch the video replay for “Sell Your Book to 1000s of Libraries” here.  

Is library distribution in your book’s future?

By Amy Collins

library distribution

As we turn our attention to back to school and stores fill up with autumn displays, this is a great time to create and launch your plans to get library distribution for the rest of 2017 and into 2018.

Most librarians are looking for books like yours — presuming it’s a good book. According to the Public Library Association 2016 survey of more than 5,800 librarians, more than 90 percent said they do buy print-on-demand – POD – and self-published books.

Library budgets are up

Unlike a lot of the market, budgets and traffic at public libraries are increasing. Budgets for book purchases have been increasing for the past three years according to the Library Journal and American Library Association Materials Survey. And, the Public Library Association reports that foot traffic at public libraries has increased 6.5 percent over the past year.library distribution 2

Smart authors and publishers are using this steady growth to find new readers and increase their sales. Libraries attract avid, enthusiastic readers, making them the best place for these rabid book fans to find their next favorite author (you?).

Library book purchases are almost always non-returnable. What’s more, getting books onto the shelves of the almost 12.000 public libraries is an amazing way to promote your book to the most sought after readers in the world.

Library distribution can be profitable for you

But it’s more than placement and marketing for authors. Libraries are incredibly profitable. They buy books and share book information with other branches that will then buy even more of your books. Paperbacks are the most popular format, but e-books and audiobooks are growing at a wonderful rate.

According to the Library Journal and American Library Association Materials Survey for 2017, money budgeted for book and material purchases rose 3.7 percent. Over half of the responding libraries—58 percent—budgeted an increase in materials dollars.

Here are the budget and population breakdowns for 2016. (Learn more in Library Journal’s Materials Survey results article.)

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Media materials purchases and borrow rates are going up, with downloadable e-books leading the way.

Popular categories

It’s not just the format of the book or e-book that librarians are looking for. The order of the top 10 fiction genres has remained constant over the past three years. Mystery, general fiction, and romance still lead the pack. (Not at all coincidentally, those are some of the top e-book categories across all sales channels in the industry.) Cooking and biography/memoir were the top categories in 2014, 2015, and again in 2016.library distribution 4


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Do you know how to sell to libraries?

It’s time to stop merely thinking about getting your book into libraries and start creating your public library plan so you’ve got library distribution.

The key to getting onto their shelves is understanding what librarians are looking for. It’s important to understand that:

  1. Libraries license e-books (which means repeat income).
  2. Libraries will buy books from self-published and indie authors (which means this lucrative market is open to all).

Watch the free video training on how to sell to libraries and discover:

  • The types of books libraries buy the most in both fiction and nonfiction.
  • Why you don’t have to be a best-seller to get your book into libraries.
  • The “tipping point” where your library sales go viral and your library book sales spread like wildfire.
  • The step-by-step process involved with getting your book into libraries.
  • How to discover who’s in charge of buying books at your local library.
  • When you should call your local librarian to talk and what you should say to get them to buy your book.
  • Ways to create local demand for your book, which is absolutely key to your success.

Don’t miss out on this lucrative market. If you’ve got a good book, it deserves to be in libraries so you can reach, help, and entertain more people.

Is your book available in libraries? If you’re self-published, what’s the most important thing you did to get it there? 

Get more helpful free book marketing information in the “Build Book Buzz” e-mail newsletter.

Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

Download Sandra’s free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” and you’ll also receive the free weekly “Build Book Buzz” newsletter loaded with book marketing tips and advice.

7 Responses to Is library distribution in your book’s future?
  1. Alison Holt
    August 2, 2017 | 11:23 am

    Hi. When I signed up for the library seminar, the page it took me to looked like the wrong seminar. It was one about passive income (which selling to libraries is) but I wanted to make sure I signed up for the correct one.


  2. Dr Carolyn Reinhart
    August 2, 2017 | 12:22 pm

    I tried to sign up to be on your NL list but never did receive a confirmation email. Please can you check that I am registered.
    Thank you

  3. Jane Goldsmith
    August 2, 2017 | 3:17 pm

    I have a QUESTION: I can’t listen to the webcast tomorrow because I’ll be at work. Is it possible, if I register, to listen to it later? Will it be available for those of us who won’t be able to listen to it live? Thank you!

    • Sandra Beckwith
      August 2, 2017 | 4:07 pm

      Yes, Jane. We’ll send a link to the recording to everyone who registers. Thanks for asking.


      • Jane Goldsmith
        August 2, 2017 | 5:22 pm

        Thanks, Sandra. Glad to hear I’ll be able to hear the event later!

  4. Melanie
    August 14, 2017 | 7:50 pm

    Hello, I’d like to view the free replay of the webinar, but the link takes me to Real Fast Marketing where I have to pay to sign up. How else can I access the webinar replay for free? Can you please send me a link? Thank you.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      August 14, 2017 | 8:23 pm

      Melanie, the replay link has expired. It’s not available any more. Sorry I can’t help!


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