“Will renting my ebook to libraries lead to more book sales?” Not likely! Here’s why…

“Will renting my ebook to libraries lead to more book sales?” Not likely! Here’s why…

Q –

I wanted your opinion on an article I read about promoting and selling my ebook through libraries. Do you know anything about this? Is it a legitimate way for promotion and can a person actually make money with it?


A –

The sad thing about libraries is you can sell them one copy of an ebook for a couple of bucks and they can then loan that out to people for years to come. They may even “loan” multiple copies of the ebook out simultaneously. There really is no way at all for you to know if a library is doing that or not…and I guarantee that IS happening in the industry. Renting an ebook to a library has the same problems. You make almost no money and they can still loan it out to anyone and everyone without paying you more. I once heard of a library that was copying ebooks onto CDs and thumbdrives for their customers, meaning multiple copies were walking out the door! Not only were authors NOT getting paid for each copy but those library patrons could then make extra copies of the books for friends, for posting online, and even to sell!

Add that to the fact that selling to libraries is HARD WORK. They are inundated with press releases, sales sheets from publishers and authors, phone calls, faxes, emails – all from people jumping up and down, yelling, “Buy my book! Buy my book!”

You can spend an hour, or two, or more trying to sell your ebook, or even your print book, to a library and, if they buy a copy at all, they will likely only buy one. In most cases, they’ll decline to buy your book altogether.

In my opinion, marketing to libraries is a waste of time. If you value your time in hours worked, like I do, it would make more sense to simply donate a copy of your print book to your local library (don’t give them the ebook!), and to focus on promoting your book online directly to readers. I definitely don’t recommend mailing free copies to numerous libraries. I know from a librarian friend of mine that most self-published books donated to libraries are never shelved. They are thrown away.

And, if they gift it, you still might find yourself in a pickle. Why? Read this:
Library “Gifts” And Copyright Harvesting – AUTHOR BEWARE!

So, if you want to do something nice for your local library, offer them a free print copy. Give them the opportunity to decline and then walk away. Why waste money on a copy of your book that they don’t want? Don’t just mail one to them, or don’t drop one off, and definitely don’t walk in and slyly put your book on their shelf! If you do, when they find it, they’re going to get upset and they will toss your book. Believe me, librarians know amateur authors do this all the time and they are used to it.

With apologies to my librarian friends out there, I must be honest:

I don’t give my local library copies of my books. It makes more sense for me to support my local library through cash donations, and by purchasing copies of books at their annual book sale. My books are my business and giving away free copies, especially ones that can be replicated, just doesn’t make any business sense at all.

If your books are your business, too, I recommend skipping the whole marketing-to-libraries routine altogether. Instead, move on to real book promotion that WORKS.


Whoo-Whee! Now, That’s One Snotty Librarian!
Mailing “Free” Books To Bookstores And Libraries Can Backfire
Top 10 Mistakes New Authors Make When Contacting Libraries
Do Some Professors Stock Their Libraries With “Free Desk Copies?” Yep!
“Should I offer credit to bookstores, libraries and others who want to purchase my book?” PROBABLY NOT!

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