Madison Public Library considers digital press for local authors and a new e-book model

Central Library renovation designCentral Library renovation designLocal authors may have an exciting new way to reach readers, if Madison Public Library goes through with its plans to establish a digital press for local authors. 

When the new Central Library opens in September 2013, local authors may be able to publish their books electronically through the library, said Greg Mickells, director of the Madison Public Library (MPL).

"We would provide workshops to authors in conjunction with this program and publish local authors or any author who might be interested," Mickells said.

"This should create a writer-friendly environment, where the library becomes an intermediary between author and reader," he said. "There are so many creative people in Madison. This will be an opportunity for them and for Madison readers."

The library is also looking at a new model for purchasing e-books directly from publishers.

"Currently, we are leasing e-books from a subscription service, OverDrive, Inc. MPL does not own titles. It just has access," Mickells said. "If the library ended its OverDrive, Inc. subscription, it would not own the titles."

OverDrive, Inc. charges the library a fee for an annual subscription service. In addition, MPL must pay a per copy fee to OverDrive, Inc. for each e-book it owns.  If the library owns 10 copies of the same book, it has to pay a fee for each of the copies.

MPL  may follow a model for e-books developed for libraries in Douglas County, Colo., Mickells said. MPL has contacted publishers that would sell their titles directly to MPL, which would allow the library to own the e-books.

Mickells indicated potential problems in implementing this model. Some publishers don't have an e-book program for direct sale to libraries, and other publishers have restrictions.  Random House charges three times more for e-books than for print editions. Another publisher only allows an e-book to be borrowed 26 times. After that, the library would have to repurchase the title.

"If an alternative model becomes competitive, it may reduce costs from current levels and also offer alternative titles for e-books," Mickells said