The Palace Project, the nascent nonprofit library e-book platform pioneered by the Digital Public Library of America, and Draft2Digital, the world’s leading distributor of self-published e-books, this week announced an agreement to make thousands of indie and self-published e-books available to public libraries.
Beginning next week, the first of an anticipated 500,000 e-book titles from Draft2Digital and Smashwords (which announced their merger last year) will be made available for library lending in Palace Marketplace, the Palace Project’s digital content platform. For now, titles will only be available for sale on a perpetual access, one copy/one user model, though other purchase and lending models could be made available to indie authors in the future.
Draft2Digital authors (including existing Smashwords authors) will be paid 60% of their e-book list price. As for pricing, DPLA and Draft2Digital officials say prices will be very “library friendly,” with some 50,000 of the e-books available to libraries priced at free.
Furthermore, in an effort to help librarians determine which of the many indie titles might fit with their collections, the Digital Public Library’s “Curation Corps,” a standing group of “librarians, information professionals and library graduate students who develop collections for the DPLA’s e-book projects” will create curated “recommended” lists of Draft2Digital books within Palace Marketplace.
Micah May, DPLA’s director of e-book services, said the Curation Corps will seek to “bubble up” the best, highest quality indie books, and he stressed that librarians can control what they buy and add to their collection.
Draft2Digital agreed to acquire Smashwords in February 2022, in a deal that united two of the largest independent distributors of self-published books. With most indie authors eager to get their books into libraries, Smashwords more than a decade ago inked deals with major library e-book distributors to offer indie and self-published e-books to libraries.
The Palace Project, meanwhile, offers an enticing new capability: billed by some librarians as offering "one app to rule them all," the upstart Palace Project enables patrons at participating libraries to potentially access all of their library’s digital content via a single interface, rather than having to go through each vendor's individual app—this includes content licensed through Palace Marketplace as well as through most of the major library e-book vendors, including OverDrive, Baker and Taylor, Bibliotheca, and Bibliolabs.
Announced in June, 2021 with $5 million in funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Palace Project is a joint venture between the Digital Public Library of America and LYRASIS to establish a "library-centric" digital distribution platform. It builds on an existing collaboration between the two entities, using an open source code designed and developed by Library Simplified for its SimplyE app, a venture of the New York Public Library.