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May 20, 2024
By Matia Query
For self-published authors hoping to get their books into libraries, there's heartening news.

For self-published authors, there remain consistent barriers to having their books in library circulation alongside traditionally published titles. And for librarians, selecting indie books to circulate within their collections comes with unique challenges. Last year, the Indie Author Project and Ingram Library Services (part of Ingram Content Group), partnered with Lyrasis on a joint initiative to gain broader insights into the evolving relationship between independent authors and public libraries across the United States and Canada. Central to the initiative is a survey the collaborators conducted from November 15 to December 29th, 2023. The survey, provided to 320 library staff members across the U.S., posed a brief series of questions relating to the value they assign to circulating self-published books. 


"This data reveals that libraries are increasingly recognizing the critical role indie authors play in the future of their collections."
The results were heartening for indie author advocates. When asked ‘‘How important is it to include indie publications in your library’s collection?” 82% of respondents stated that it was either extremely important, very important, or somewhat important. Ninety-four percent of the surveyed library professionals stated that they would be either extremely interested, very interested, or somewhat interested in purchasing books from local indie authors in print if they were curated for quality by professional editors, while 93% said that they would be interested in showcasing local indie author’s books if curated for quality by professional editors. When asked to name the biggest obstacle to adding indie content to their library collections, 57% of participants reported the greatest obstacle is determining the quality of indie titles without input from reviews. Other factors included challenges relating to discovering worthy titles and purchasing from individual vendors.

Key Takeaways

The Indie Author Project, Lyrasis, and Ingram Library Services are utilizing their research results to facilitate greater connections and communications between public libraries, indie authors, and indie book reviewers. The results show that the main barriers to circulating indie books involve issues of discoverability and the challenges of determining book content, quality, and potential interest on the part of readers; guidance from professional reviewers plus library and indie author advocacy organizations becomes key.

According to Carolyn Morris, v-p of Ingram Library Services, “Independent authors play an essential role in the book ecosystem… We know that libraries are eager to buy these titles and help readers discover them. The survey confirms that libraries would like more help finding the best of these publications, and Ingram Library Services offers several programs to help meet this demand.”

Mitchell Davis, digital publishing entrepreneur and former CEO of BiblioLabs, feels similarly encouraged by the results of the survey. “This data reveals that libraries are increasingly recognizing the critical role indie authors play in the future of their collections,” Davis says. He adds that, “It also highlights the substantial opportunities to strengthen the relationships between public libraries and leading independent authors.”

As barriers fall away, it’s a cause to celebrate–for writers looking to broaden their audience; libraries eager to represent the breadth of today’s non-traditionally published books; and readers eager to enrich their worlds through indie voices.