The Open eBooks initiative was established with a partnership between The New York Public Library, DPLA (Digital Public Library of America), and First Book, with assistance from Baker & Taylor, and made possible by generous commitments of publishers, with funding support provided in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
If you are a writer for children [7 or under], middle grade [8-12] or young adults [13-18], Open eBooks is a program that might be of interest to you. At its core, their software application contains thousands of popular and new titles, which are made free for children from in-need households.
Michelle Obama Helped Kickstart the Open eBooks App . . .
As part of the Open eBooks initiative, their app allows users to access thousands of free eBooks on smartphones or tablets. It’s open to any educator, student or administrator at one of the 66,000+ Title I schools or any of the 194 Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools in the United States.
Addressing Indie Authors
Today, I interviewed Rachel L. Frick, director of business development for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to learn more about the possibility of this program providing indie authors with an opportunity to distribute their work.
Since the scope of this project reaches out to a wide audience, it’s logical that Open eBooks would accept book submission from the traditional publishers at the onset.
However, in time if indie authors could also be accepted, it would allow both veteran and newbie authors to have their work judged and vetted by their target audience. Like the basic premise of James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds, a consensus by a larger group of people will surface more accurate assessments of one’s work, than any expert or book reviewer could possibly achieve.
When querying Frick on the topic, she said: “We are currently working with large publishers for now, but hope to include works from smaller presses, as well as self-published authors in the future, as we see these options as meeting the need for books that appeal to a diverse audience.”
“As you can imagine, we had an amazing response from indie authors, small presses and others in regards to contributing to the program. As we bring the second class of the Curation Corps into action, we will assess how best to manage this type of content. As we would have to have legal agreements with each individual author, we need to figure out a streamlined way to accomplish this.”
Requirements for Indie Authors
For those indie authors interested in sending in submissions or querying Open eBooks at this juncture, Frick asked that they email their works to the Open eBooks initiative at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions should include book titles, a synopsis, age group, reading level, readership and subject tags. Additionally, you should note if your eBooks have received an award or special recognition. Frick indicated that the initiative is also very interested in titles that are written in languages other than English.
“We are working towards collections that represents a diverse range of voices and experiences, prioritizing titles that speak to this challenge,” noted Frick.
Currently this program only supports works published in EPUB3 format, but will be able to accept books in PDF late in 2016.
There are several ways to sign up for Open eBooks and acquire the app. You can visit OpeneBooks.net or the White House's official announcement. Or, check out the blog posting: “Five more Facts About the White House and Michelle Obama's Free ‘Open eBooks’ App,” with information from the White House and the New York Public Library.
For those authors who write children’s books, you should consider Open eBooks as another distribution channel to get your work out in front of your targeted audiences. We will be watching the success of this program over the course of the next year and look forward to your comments and feedback about your submissions and experiences with the program, when and if you proceed with Open eBooks.
Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks.com as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-publishd books. My blogs appear bi-weekly on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.
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