This timely article by Josh Hadro was posted on the Library Journal website last week and points out the major barriers faced by self-published books in becoming a viable part of a library’s collection. Mr. Hadro notes that despite the success of self- published authors like Amanda Hocking, E.L. James, and Hugh Howey, the stigma of “vanity publishing” is still alive and well, questioning the quality of the majority of these works. Worries about quality are compounded by the lack of attention paid to self-published works by the mainstream reviewing media. According to Mr. Hadro, “the historical review mechanisms are not integrating any significant number of reviews of self-published works.”
The article adds to these concerns by noting the so-called “availability gap that stymies patrons from getting at many requested works” as well as issues relate to the sheer number of self-published titles and the resulting difficulty in their discoverability. But perhaps the most problematic issue confronting self-publishing and libraries is the fact that, as of yet, there is no significant demand from patrons for self-published books.
Mr. Hadro offers another possible perspective. He suggests that perhaps libraries should focus more on the creators of self-published works and think about the self-publishing phenomena as a “service opportunity rather than a collection development concern.” He notes that libraries could be “making the connection between that creative impulse and the staff and material resources of the library” to help would be authors self-publish.
Needless to say we have only provided a bare bones overview of the article. Mr. Hadro has a number of other compelling observations and ideas that make this article a thought provoking and worthwhile read. So do yourself a favor and check it out.
(However, we have to admit that this article is focused on self-published books and their place in the public library. After reading it, you may be asking yourself but what about academic self-publishing and libraries?
Never fear! Against the Grain is tackling that very topic in our June issue. Guest edited by Bob Holley of the School of Library and Information Science, Wayne State University, this issue will feature a number of must-read articles.