Libraries are a vital part of any community. They offer a place for people to come and learn, study, and find information. One of the most common questions people ask about libraries is 'how do libraries get books?".
This blog post will answer that question and give you a behind-the-scenes look at how your local library acquires new titles!
How Libraries Decide What Books To Acquire
The first step in getting new books for the library is identifying which titles to acquire. Librarians do this in a variety of ways.
They might use book review journals, publisher catalogs, or recommendations from other librarians.
Once they've compiled a list of potential new titles, they'll need to determine if the library can afford to purchase them.
Library Books Aren't Free!
You probably read "afford to purchase" and started wondering, 'how do libraries make money?'.
Libraries are a business, however, most of them are non-profit. This means that they don't make a profit from their operations.
Instead, they rely on funding from local government, grants, and donations.
When a library buys a book, the cost of a book is not just the sticker price; libraries also have to consider shipping costs, processing fees, and any special requirements (like hardcover vs. paperback).
After considering all of these factors, the librarian will submit a purchase request to the library's budget committee.
If the request is approved, the library will purchase the book (or books) from the publisher or vendor.
What About Self-Published Books?
Similar to how Waterstones stock self-published books, libraries can acquire self-published books by using Expanded Distribution.
Expanded Distribution is a program that allows libraries to order self-published books in the same way that they would order any other book.
Once a self-published book is ordered, it will be shipped to the library and processed in the same way as a traditionally published book.
A library first has to know a title exists to request it, so how does a library know about independently published works?
If you have published via KDP, a librarian may be browsing the Amazon website and come across your book.
They can also find out about new titles through social media, word-of-mouth, or other independent booksellers. This is why authors love the little marketing trick of sending somebody into a bookstore or library to ask about their book!
How Much Do Libraries Pay For Books?
Libraries typically pay anywhere from 30-50% of the retail price of a book.
This may seem like a lot, but it's important to remember that libraries don't just purchase one copy of a book - they often buy several copies (or more!). The same is true for ebooks.
Libraries have to pay for each ebook license they acquire, and the price per book can vary widely. For example, a new release ebook from a major publisher might cost $60, while an older ebook from a smaller publisher might only cost $15.
The number of copies a library buys also depends on how popular the book is. For example, a library might only purchase one copy of an obscure book, but they might purchase ten copies of a bestseller.