eBooks Becoming More Popular During the Pandemic

Highlighting a trend nobody could see coming — except anyone with two brain cells to rub together and even a passing interest in the trade book industry — ebooks are becoming more popular. And of course, this has the dinosaurs in New York clutching their mimosas ever more tightly at brunch.

The increased popularity of ebooks — in particular, checking out ebooks from libraries — is scaring the dinosaurs shitless. Alpha dinosaur John Sargent over at MacMillan worries about library e-lending just being too damn easy for the reader. I mean, shouldn’t a reader have to slap on a mask, dress for New York, slog out into the weather, social distance (yeah, I’m using that as a two-word verb), and check out a physical copy of a book the way Benjamin Fucking Franklin intended???

It’s rather hard to pity our Jurassic forebears who just refuse to die already because the public libraries, like the independent bookstores which also fancy themselves arbiters of taste and literature, are taking extra steps to prop up the dinosaurs’ overpriced offerings during the Pandemic (note to self: write a separate post dragging independent bookstores over broken glass smeared with water buffalo dung for being the house slaves of the dinosaurs in New York). The same Wired piece also notes that public library ebook purchases are helping keep the dinosaurs’ balance sheets from looking even worse.

Now to the part where we make this news we can use.

The Wired piece actually name-checked one of the primary distributors libraries purchase from, OverDrive, as well as the Libby app. Indie publishers can easily put their ebooks into OverDrive’s catalog by working with an aggregator (if you as an indie publisher have placed your work on OverDrive directly, please share your experience!).

Next couple of paragraphs are mostly for writers new or new-ish to indie publishing.

I expect I’ll be writing a comparison piece on a few of the larger aggregators some time soon, but for now, here in a nutshell is what you need to know to get started.

Aggregators save the indie publisher time on distribution, in exchange for a percentage of the profits or a flat monthly charge. Aggregators put the indie’s books out through dozens of distributors around the world, including companies that specialize in selling to libraries. Shop them. See which one fits your needs best, and offers the best deal. If you search through Dale’s YouTube channel, you’ll find reviews of all of the good aggregators, and some to avoid.

I drew up this table the other day. Indie publishing is a fast-changing industry. Always double-check to see what the current offerings are.

Smashwords has the best and most popular on-site store of the five. Informally and unscientifically, from what I’ve read and heard, the two aggregators to give the most serious consideration to at present are Draft2Digital and PublishDrive (note: I am not registered with any affiliate programs at the moment, and I’m not receiving any compensation for referencing any of these companies).

Marketing and promotion are another thing, of course, but at least the indie publisher can easily, from the comfort of their own home, make their ebooks available to libraries who serve readers checking out ebooks from the comfort of their own homes.

The fact that more readers are turning to ebooks is just additional motivation to pursue these distribution channels.

Now close those social media apps, open your word processor, and get back to making magic.

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