Following the completion of a successful year-long pilot program, Rakuten OverDrive announced today the July 1st availability of curated Indie Author Project (IAP) eBooks to their partners worldwide. The IAP eBook collections feature award-winning titles from across the world that are hand-selected by Library Journal, Black Caucus of the ALA (BCALA), and a network of hundreds of librarians participating in the IAP’s regional indie eBook contests. This is a royalty-paying program to the selected authors, and it is the latest development in the transformation of deeper mainstream public library involvement in the indie book world.
The statewide Wisconsin Public Library Consortium (WPLC) is a participant in the IAP contests and was a participant in the pilot. They saw incredible engagement and usage for the eBooks across all their participating libraries. According to Stef Morrill, the director of WiLS and the project manager for the WPLC, “For years, there has been interest in sharing great indie eBooks with patrons, especially from authors in our own communities. Locating and selecting that content has been challenging, and integrating it with our existing OverDrive content has not been possible. We have been inspired by being part of the Indie Author Project contests. As libraries continue to grow their roles as creative centers of their own communities, forging and developing these relationships with local writers is incredibly important. Now we are able to identify the best authors, both in our state and beyond, and make their eBooks available to as many patrons as possible. We are proving we can contribute value to authors in meaningful ways.”
Mitchell Davis, CEO of BiblioBoard (creators of the Indie Author Project), believes this partnership closes the loop on the original vision of the program. “Originally, our SELF-e program was pitched to authors as a discovery and marketing platform, so extending availability to OverDrive helped further that mission,” says Davis. “But as the program has developed and matured, we have built a network of hundreds of librarians who are directly engaged in finding and promoting their best local authors. The OverDrive curated collections, including winners, finalists, and shortlist eBooks of North American regional contests, represent the cream of the crop.”
OverDrive founder and CEO, Steve Potash, agrees, adding that indie authors give OverDrive an opportunity to pilot and test innovative eBook access models. “There is clearly a network effect to simultaneous use eBooks that we want to unlock on the OverDrive platform,” states Potash. “We believe libraries play a vital role in helping get books into the world and in front of readers, which drives all types of commercial activity for the authors. Simultaneous use helps this process, and we are excited to experiment with the best indie authors and curators in North America to push this model forward and help them find more readers.”
OverDrive has been an early supporter of the Panorama Project, an industry-wide data project which aims to incorporate data from this indie eBook partnership to further illustrate the value of library eBook availability. “We are hoping to use the first Indie Author of the Year’s award-winning book as a test case to see what data can be generated from a comprehensive, worldwide simultaneous use availability,” Davis says.
Sample collections of the new indie curated eBook collections in YA, romance, and sci-fi/fantasy genres will be available to OverDrive partners on July 1 with expanded full collections available commercially by the end of 2019.
For more information on the Indie Author Project, visit indieauthorproject.com.