One Rx if publishers won’t deal with libraries fairly: Grow your own content and gain more clout

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imagePublishers and libraries should directly deal with each other more often in the future than they do now—given all the economies of digital media. E-books don’t require brick-and-mortar warehouses and cost next to nothing to “ship.” And print on demand also could help reduce a reliance on middlemen.

But certain publishers may not always come around to the virtues of direct arrangements and may even withhold titles normally available through middlemen. How can libraries gain clout, especially with the big New York houses?

One partial solution could be to work with small publishers, just as some libraries will be doing in the state of Colorado. And another—the real topic of this post—could be for libraries to grow their own content while maintaining proper quality control. In the partnership category and others, here are some ideas within the area of books:

1) Libraries could partner with small presses both locally and nationally, not just at the state level. A national digital library system could expedite this  by making libraries more attractive as partners..

2) Along with enlightened local bookstores, libraries could do a better job of connecting local writers with local markets. Let ‘em know what patrons want.

3) Libraries and bookstores could start online forums where patrons offered private and public feedback for local writers.

4) Some established commercial presses let readers preview less-than-fully polished works in e-book format, and libraries could do the same for writers and small presses. Talk about feedback opportunities! Along the way, libraries should keep in mind that e-books are the new paperbacks and may attract more adventuresome readers than p-books do. Presto! New audiences, new patrons.

5) Far from warring against the big-time publishers willing to deal fairly, libraries could help them discover and develop new talent.

6) If the big publishers failed to respond to good books, then libraries on their own could publish the writers nationally and promote them.

7) Libraries could band together to hire some of the many experienced editors laid off by the big publishers—including those skilled at shaping raw manuscripts into popular bestsellers.

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