SmashwordsOverDriveMany successful self-published authors and small presses have found success using Smashwords‘ distributions network.

They are able to get their e-books on about a dozen platforms. Smashwords has just announced one more.

E-books on Smashwords have the opportunity to be checked out through local libraries using OverDrive, the companies announced on Tuesday.

“This is huge news,” Smashwords founder Mark Coker said in a phone interview. “It’s difficult for self-published authors to get distribution on OverDrive. They (OverDrive) can’t take on titles one-by-one. OverDrive would have to invest millions of dollars in technical aspects.

“This is something we can offer with an aggregator like Smashwords.”

More than 200,000 titles on Smashwords will be offered to OverDrive’s more than 20,000 public libraries on its global network. Libraries will have the option to buy curated lists from Smashwords that will encompass the top 100, 500 and 1,000 titles, or the bestselling books from mysteries and thrillers.

The titles will be able to be checked out by one patron at a time through OverDrive.

“We’re thrilled to make the Smashwords catalog available to libraries and patrons in the OverDrive network,” said Steve Potash, founder and CEO of OverDrive.  “OverDrive helps to connect readers with authors and titles, and with Smashwords content, we are offering new voices, great interest and emerging self-published authors, including New York Times and USA Today bestsellers.”
Smashwords authors have the option to opt out of the program.

Authors can price their books differently for libraries as well, but there is a minimum of $1.99, even for free books offered through Smashwords.

Along with a library-lending program, users will have the option to purchase the e-books through OverDrive’s system.

Some authors won’t want their books to be part of a free lending program that libraries offer. However, Coker has found many authors to not only be receptive but excited by the idea.
“For some authors, the true compensation is an even bigger exposure to readership,” Coker said. “Readers use the library for discovery. It allows you to try things you might not normally try.”

Coker has found that some authors have priced their books for libraries at a lower price point than their normal rate.

“They want to support libraries,” he said. “A lot of authors want to give back. They got their love of reading from libraries.”

More than 200,000 titles will be available for OverDrive, but not including erotica titles. Coker sees Smashwords’ newest partnership as a challenge to Amazon and its Kindle Direct Publishing system.

“Another implementation here is it expands the sales opportunity outside of the closed Amazon eco-system,” Coker said. “Amazon publishes close to a half million books. If we can turn OverDrive into as large of a sales opportunity that I think we can, it’s going to tip the balances.”

While using libraries as a place to discover books, the hope is that once readers find authors they enjoy they will continue to purchase their books afterward, buying backlist titles and the latest releases.

Smashwords’ goal is to get books in as many distributions networks as possible.

It announced Monday it has partnered with txtr, a Berlin-based e-book retailing company. This adds to other platforms Smashwords distributes to such as Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Flipkart (India), Baker & Taylor 360, Oyster, Scribd, Page Foundry and others.

“One of the things I want to do is create a diverse e-book ecosystem,” Coker said. “The more retailers we have in the world, the more libraries we have committed to readers makes for a better book culture. If they all consolidate, we lose.”

Smashwords authors that already to offer their catalogs to OverDrive include Amy Miles, Brian S. Pratt, Chanda Hahn, JD Nixon and at least a dozen others.