Tag Archive for Libraries

Smashwords, OverDrive deal ‘a watershed moment’ for self-published authors and libraries

Smashwords, an e-book self-publishing platform, and digital library vendor OverDrive have reached an agreement to distribute its titles via the OverDrive network of public libraries. The deal will make more than 200,000 Smashword titles available for borrowing and purchase through OverDrive.

The deal represents books by about 80,000 self-published authors. As part of the agreement, OverDrive and Smashwords will create lists of bestselling Smashwords’ authors and its most popular genres, including romance, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction. Libraries will have the option of purchasing the top 100, 500 or 1,000 bestselling Smashword authors, or curated by lists or by genre.

Calling the deal “a watershed moment” for self-published authors and libraries, Smashwords CEO Mark Coker said, “millions of library patrons will now have access to the amazing literary talent,” of Smashwords authors.

The new deal offers library patrons the option of borrowing the e-book or buying the book if it is “checked out,” However, while this is an e-book deal, Coker claims books will be loaned as if they were physical books on “a one copy/one user model.” “This is one checkout at a time. If a patron wants to read a book and it’s already checked out, they’ll be given the option to purchase the book or wait in the queue. The book can only checked out to one patron a time (like a print book.)”

One benefit Coker mentions, Smashwords e-books can be checked out an unlimited number of times. “Unlike some publishers that require a repurchase after a certain number of checkouts, these libraries won’t have that limitation.”

Steve Potash, founder and CEO of OverDrive said “We’re thrilled to make the Smashwords catalog available to libraries and patrons in the OverDrive network. We are offering new voices, great interest and emerging self-published authors.”

Google Deal Reaches Halfway Point: Publishers Settle

Copyright Definition

Photo by Ali Caraballo

In 2004, Google reached an agreement with several libraries to digitize their collections. Google users would then have access to search this digital database and view excerpts of each work through the Google Library Project (GLP) initiative. If the viewer wished to see the entire selected work, they could purchase it for a fee.

At this time, Google had digitized over seven million books, including works protected by copyright in the United States. The lawsuit (initially filed as a partnership between the Author’s Guild and five major book publishers in 2005) claimed Google violated copyright law of authors, publishers and other US copyright owners by digitizing these works without the copyright owners’ permission.

Official Seal of the US Copyright office

Official Seal of the US Copyright office

After seven years of litigation, Google and the original five publishers named in the suit announced they have reached a settlement. The agreement gives the publishers the option to allow Google to digitize their out-of-print books that are still under copyright protection. If Google is permitted to do so, it will also provide the publisher(s) with a digital copy for their own use, which they may use to sell on their website.

It is the latest indication for defining copyright in the age of the Internet. Seven years ago digital books were a new and frightening prospect, now they have become commonplace. The resolution gives publishers the benefit of having Google do the legwork of digitizing out-of-print books they would not have otherwise turned into e-books. Simultaneously, Google can now expand the library of e-books it sells to its consumers in an effort to compete with e-book rival Amazon.com.

Senior Product Manager of F5 Networks, Andrew Oehler had this to say, “Protecting one’s rights to creative copy is important.” “While an author should have a right to make money on the intellectual property he produces, he should not be constrained by the status quo on how, where and when he can reach his audience.”

However, the settlement did not resolve the issue at the heart of the litigation — Google’s infringement of copyright by digitizing books. The settlement allows publishers the right to keep their front and backlist titles out of Google’s reach.  The Author’s Guild has not reached an agreement at this time and chose to continue its lawsuit against Google.

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