Seattle Public Library encourages authors to write ebooks

Seattle Public Library is hoping to pique the interest of area writers with an opportunity to show off their talents in the form of an ebook.

The library has partnered with Smashwords, an independent publisher and distributor of ebooks, to offer a self-publishing platform for aspiring and established Seattle, Washington writers. The pair have also teamed up to offer a self-publishing contest, in which up to three individuals will have their ebooks placed into circulation of the library’s ebook collection. The contest runs through midnight on October 15, winners will be notified by November 15. Eligible entrants must have a Seattle Public Library card and be 18-years-old or older.

This is all a part of the Seattle Writes project to support local authors and connect them with the library’s community of readers. The initiative includes workshops on the craft of writing, write-ins, author panels, and classes on digital publishing.

Smashwords founder, Mark Coker said ebooks have been a natural opportunity for libraries to expand their mission, and to secure an even more important place in the community by helping to promote a culture of authorship.

Coker believes the contest will be a magnificent incentive for writers that ordinarily wouldn’t have an audience. He said writers want readers and libraries offer access to an audience that is willing and ready to read.

The ebook project is funded by a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Andrea Gough, Librarian and a member of Seattle Public Library’s Millennial Factor Project group said it is the perfect way to reach out to its niche of 18 to 30-year-olds that were seeking another way to show off the area’s creativity. The library offers creative writing classes but many felt there was a need to add the ebook publishing platform.

It was once thought that the ebook would lead to the death of libraries as we know them but it has proven to be yet another tool in the arsenal for libraries to offer its members. Smashwords, now working with several library systems, started with California’s Los Gatos Library. It is one of the few self-publishing companies to work with public libraries.

The partnership with local libraries has been a perfect fit for Smashwords. When starting out with Los Gatos, the library system quickly discovered it preferred receiving donations of ebooks from local authors than the presence of physical books. A reason for this is that physical books are more difficult to accept, catalog, and shelve. The ebook acquisition tools have been a simple alternative. Smashwords helped build a publishing portal for Los Gatos Library, which is the same one used by Seattle Public Library.

Seattle Public Library also has a new partnership with ebook supplier OverDrive. Coker said with OverDrive, libraries are a lot closer to closing the publishing gap. A writer can now come to the library, ask how to publish a book, get pointed to a publishing portal, publish a book, and then the book can be purchased by the library.