On Having My E-book in the Library

Isn’t it the dream of every author to have her work available in the local library? My first book, Faces of a Reservation, is safely ensconced on many library shelves around the country, an especially good thing now that it’s out of print. And I mean it literally when I say “ensconced”—it seems always to be available at our county library, as in not checked out!

That’s the auxiliary dream—that your book will actually be borrowed and read. I have that chance again with New Old World, which the Multnomah County Library recently chose to include in their e-book collection. Their annual Library Writers Project solicits e-books from local writers and chooses a number of “standouts” from the several dozen entries. This year the theme of the contest was fiction and memoir, and New Old World, which blurs genres, happened to suit both categories.

It was good fun to watch the initial rush when my e-book first appeared in the catalog along with the other Library Writers Project selections. Readers swooped in and there was an immediate wait list for most of the titles. The library had purchased ten copies of New Old World, and they soon ordered five more to shorten the wait time. Over the next month or so, the wait list dwindled from a couple of dozen to a handful to none. That is apparently the way of all books, even one-time best-sellers, albeit not that fast!

While it’s good for the ego to see people waiting for your book, the beauty of having no wait list is that borrowers can keep and renew the book for as long as they need it rather than having to return it when the three-week lending period is up. Because New Old World is such a long book, I wondered if anybody would actually be able to finish reading it during this first frenetic period. I did get two reviews on Kindle, which is the main platform used by the library to disseminate e-books, and since there hadn’t been any purchases at Amazon, they must have been borrowers who read quickly!

So how does it work? It’s counterintuitive, but e-books behave just like physical books in that one copy can be borrowed by only one person at a time. Residents of Multnomah County who have library cards can go to the main catalog at https://multcolib.org and search for the title or my name. Then they can borrow a copy via the OverDrive or Libby app, a somewhat mysterious process that is more familiar to regular e-book borrowers than it is to me. One thing I know is that you have to choose whether you want it in EPUB (Apple Books, etc.) or MOBI (Kindle) form, depending on what device you have, and both the method of delivery and your reading experience flow from that choice. I’ll stop here before I get myself out on a limb.

As an author, I can say that it’s great to have this access to new audiences, and the library is to be commended for connecting local writers with local readers. It saved me having to market my book to the library acquisition people, which can be daunting when there are so many books and e-books on the market vying for attention.

If buying or borrowing e-books is not your thing, you’ll be glad to know that I’m currently creating a print version of New Old World. My next post will be to announce its arrival.

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