US library digital patron-services provider BiblioBoard and Canadian online book-production specialist Pressbooks are forming a new partnership called Pressbooks Public, designed to let libraries offer e-book-publishing services to their local authors.
The timing of the coordinated effort by Pressbooks and BiblioBoard is significant: the beta version of Pressbooks Public is being created during the ongoing international "NaNoWriMo" National Novel Writing Month project, which runs through November and sees many fledgling and veteran writers produce a first draft of a book in 30 days. The launch of the full Pressbooks Public programme is anticipated to be made during the American Library Association's annual MidWinter conference, 8-12 January in Boston.
Pressbooks Public is being described as "a new indie author composition" service, which will effectively create a seamless channel for an author's creation of an ebook available for distribution not only to regular commercial channels but also to US library collections.
The library element is made possible by BiblioBoard's partnership with Library Journal in the creation of SELF-e, which uses Library Journal's curation services to enable BiblioBoard to offer pre-screened indie e-books to librarians in both state and national level anthologies for the 299-million-patron US library system.
BiblioBoard is headed by founder and chief business officer Mitchell Davis and is based in Charleston, South Carolina. It is familiar in the UK for its work with the British Library in creating historical book apps and collections. As The Bookseller reported in 2011, the initial iPad app launch offered subscribers access to more than 45,000 19th-century volumes from the British Library collections. Davis is best known in the US for founding a print-on-demand software company, BookSurge, that went on to become Amazon's CreateSpace.
Davis said he welcomes the Pressbooks Public development as logical step in SELF-e's progress: "The first problem we needed to solve was helping authors who had published their books over the past 15 years" to gain access to the vast US library readership. “SELF-e solves that problem by taking books that have already been published and curating them for the right audiences. We have received submissions from thousands of authors over the past year and those books are finding new readers.”
SELF-e's services can also assist librarians in responding to the many requests they get for support from their local author communities. And the Pressbooks Public development enriches this new library-author relationship, allowing librarians to offer indie authors a way to produce their e-books through the new service.
Davis said: "SELF-e was a good first step, but this partnership with Pressbooks gives libraries the ability to support their local author community through the entire lifecycle of their books; from the first word they type to commercial availability worldwide. This creates a much stronger role for the library in the future of the book.”
Pressbooks is the influential open source online publishing software suite developed by Montreal entrepreneur Hugh McGuire, who is also the creator of LibriVox, a publisher of free, public domain audiobooks. With Brian O'Leary, McGuire co-edited the title Book: A Futurist's Manifesto, A Collection of Essays from the Bleeding Edge of Publishing (2011, O'Reilly Media).
In talking about the new arrangement with BiblioBoard and SELF-e, McGuire said: "Pressbooks Public creates professional-quality print and digital books without requiring any designers or publishing services, giving indie authors control of the appearance and formats of their works. Since the authors control their files and can update them at any time, they control their writing path.”
One library participating in the beta is the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). Catherine Royalty, LAPL's acquisitions manager, said: “We are thrilled to add Pressbooks to our resources for our active local author community. It empowers our users to create a professional, polished final product, and it fits in beautifully with our use of the SELF-e service.”
Libraries including LAPL participating in the Pressbooks Public beta are making the service free to their library patrons. Indie authors using the new system can simultaneously submit their ebooks to SELF-e's team for state and national anthology consideration.
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