Bookstores have always been a great resource for authors wanting to self-publish their work. But one of the trends that we’re starting to see at Ingram is one where bookstores are developing their own publishing programs. And not just bookstores, but public libraries as well. With the tools now available through a service like IngramSpark, launching a publishing program has never been easier. Since libraries and bookstores have always been a community’s window into the publishing industry, it was just a matter of time before they took on the roles of advisor and publisher.
Libraries and Bookstores That Are Leading the Trend
Two examples of this trend are worth mentioning here: Williamson County Public Library in Franklin, Tennessee and Village Books in Bellingham, Washington. Williamson County Public Library under the direction of Dolores Greenwald decided to publish a picture book featuring popular local miniature horses, Bucky and Bonnie, to help introduce children to the library. “The motivation…was the desire for the library to move in the direction of being content creators, not just content curators,” said Greenwald. Written and designed by library staff and published under the library’s imprint, Academy Park Press, the title was printed and distributed through IngramSpark. Bucky and Bonnie’s Library Adventure became a local hit garnering both publicity and fundraising opportunity especially when the real-life horses made appearances in the library to sign books. The library has since published Bullets and Bayonets: A Battle of Franklin Primer, that has won awards and been adopted by the local school board. They also have launched an awards program for local authors where winners receive library training and support in publishing their own works via IngramSpark. To visit Williamson County Library go to http://wcpltn.org/
Village Books, seeing the industry growth in independent publishing have incorporated services directly into the store to help authors self-publish their work. As Village Book’s Publishing Director, Brendan Clark has noted, “Our publishing program brings together flexible project management, high-quality on-demand book production, and the expertise of local professionals, all with the unified goal of helping authors get their books into print.” To date, Village Books has published dozens of books, many of which have made it to the store’s best-sellers. Most bookstores haven’t gone as far as Village Books in developing their publishing imprints but many do offer writing and publishing programs geared to indie authors. Check in with your local bookseller, sign up for their newsletter and take advantage of their author training. To learn more about Village Books go to http://www.villagebooks.com/independent-publishing
This is a trend that we at Ingram are delighted to help foster because it not only helps authors but it also gives new relevance to libraries and bookstores as fundamental institutions within local communities. As has been reported previously there have been nearly 300 new bookstore openings in the US in the last several years reversing the closing trend that started nearly a decade ago. I’m thrilled and encouraged by this news.
Independent Publisher Content and Libraries
Of course, one of the challenges today is that only a fraction of independently published content is making its way onto the shelves or databases of libraries, even academic content written by scholars in their field. Traditionally libraries rely on review media such as Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Choice to help inform their acquisition choices. Since only a handful of titles end up being reviewed, there’s a huge mass of content not being adequately vetted. One of the things we’re considering at Ingram is a way to properly vet nonfiction content published through IngramSpark via staff specialists in Ingram’s Library Services program. Content deemed appropriate or that match the collection development profile would be brought to the attention of the library. To help with the vetting process, additional metadata is being collected as a title is being set up in IngramSpark that would identify an author’s professional background and affiliations, prior publications and reviews, geographic location and the unique aspect of the work in terms of other books in the field. This initiative is something we hope to launch in the coming year, and I'll be updating you here when it does.
Congratulations if you either decided to become an author or, better yet, you actually published your first book this past year. This is a huge feat and one that is both exciting and challenging. If your book made it into the marketplace, remember that it takes time to actually build your audience. For many authors, it can actually take years to reach the success you want. The key is to learn as much as you can about the publishing industry and be patient as you build your career as a writer brick by brick. Pass on your knowledge and always be generous with your fellow authors, librarians, and booksellers. Have a wonderful holiday season, shop in your local bookstore and give the best gifts in the world—books.
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