Selling your Books to UK Libraries

As I successfully managed to sell my first book to a number of libraries throughout the UK, I thought I would try again with Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK). If it’s something that you are interested in doing then I’ve republished my original blog post below (with some slight updates), which explains how to go about it. The process is actually more straightforward than it sounds. Once you’ve made sure that your book is listed at all the right places (ref below) it’s simply a matter of emailing one point of contact for each region.

LibrariesSo, for the effort of sending one email you could sell as many as 20 or 30 books at a time depending on how many libraries there are in that region and how many books the region wishes to stock. You would then have to package and send the books off. Don’t forget to shop around for parcel carriers as companies such as Hermes or Yodel (in the UK) often work out cheaper than Royal Mail for larger packages. You can enter details of the package weight and size on their websites to find out the postage costs. An advantage with larger packages is that the p&p cost per book becomes cheaper.

Another advantage with libraries is that by stocking your book with them it can help to get the word out about your books. I have put details of each of my other books in the back of my books as well as my forthcoming novel. I’ve also included details of where to buy further copies. Therefore, sales to libraries could lead to other sales further down the line. You can also claim library royalties, which is an amount credited to you each time your book is borrowed.

To save you time looking up all the email addresses for libraries, I have a spreadsheet already prepared, so let me know if you would like a copy. As it was created over a year ago some of the email addresses could be out of date, but you could always find up to date details by referring to the websites as detailed below.

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ORIGINAL BLOG POST

If you want to place your book with libraries in the UK, the first point to note is that most public libraries have their own preferred suppliers. The majority of libraries will deal through one of three major wholesalers, which are: Gardners, Askews and Bertrams. You can find contact details for all of these by entering their names in Google. These are all main suppliers so their websites will come at the top of the search results.

It is not necessary to open an account with these wholesalers; this only applies if they are holding a stock of your books. If you hold your own stocks, libraries merely need to know that they will be able to order copies of your book. This is how the process works:

Registering your Book with Nielsen
When you register your book with Nielsen’s Book Data and are given your ISBN number they will place you on their tele-ordering system. This means that the wholesalers can order copies of your book from them. N.B. If you have published your book through CreateSpace and have used their ISBN number then you probably won’t have registered your book with Nielsen’s Book Data. However, if you want to act as your own publisher then it is best to purchase your own ISBN numbers from Nielsen.

Registering with BDS
For libraries it is also best to register your book with Bibliographic Data Service (BDS) at: http://www.bibliographicdata.co.uk/. Many of the library providers will need your book to be listed on this database so that they can order copies for libraries. Before you approach libraries, it is best to make a quick call to each of the wholesalers above and make sure that your book is on their systems. If you have registered with BDS it is best to give it a few days for the information to filter through to the wholesalers.

Finding Library Contact Details
The next stage is to approach the libraries. There is a list of all the libraries in the UK at: http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/square/ac940/weblibs.html. The good thing about libraries is that there is one point of contact for each region, usually called the Library Acquisitions Officer or something similar. So, for example, Lancashire has more than 30 individual libraries. If you click Lancashire on the above web page, then click ‘About ouContacting Librariesr Libraries’ from the menu on the left, followed by ‘Find your nearest library’ from the menu on the right, you will see an A-Z listing on the next screen. The main library for a particular region is often listed as Central Library or otherwise it will be based at the most major city or town in that region. Alternatively, there will be a separate email address to contact libraries generally rather than an individual branch. In this case it is shown as a link ‘email the library service’ at the bottom of the screen, and the email address is: library@lancashire.gov.uk.

All of the regions’ library websites work in a similar way. Basically you are looking for the main library or the reference library for that region and the email address should be something similar to the Lancashire one. Always head your email for the attention of the Library Acquisitions Officer so that it is (hopefully) forwarded to the right person. In some cases there may be a contact form rather than an email address so it is worthwhile telephoning to ask for the email address since it is difficult to promote your book on a contact form.

Approaching Libraries
When you approach each library make sure that you give them any details of your book that might be of interest to that particular region e.g. if it has a local angle, and don’t forget to include the ISBN number, which is essential. Send them a PDF if you have one, cover image and a link to the press release so that they can find out more. You could also include details of how to order, emphasising that your book is listed with Nielsens, BDS and the various wholesalers.

Dealing with Wholesalers
Wholesalers ask for massive discounts for trade – some as high as 60%. I found this out when I approached one to open an account as I had been misinformed and led to believe that I needed to do so. However, because you are merely asking if you are on their system and then approaching libraries, this puts you in a better position. If the library places an order with their wholesaler, who in turn approaches you, you will then be able to agree the rate of discount, bearing in mind that you have already made a sale for the wholesaler. When doing so, don’t forget to factor in the postage and packing costs, which are very high nowadays. The rate that I managed to agree with the two wholesalers that I have dealt with was considerably lower than 60% subject to me meeting the costs for postage and packing.

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One point I want to add is that it is easier to submit details of your book to BDS prior to publication using their online form. Once the book is published you won’t be able to use the online form and will have to send a physical print copy of the book. You then have to wait a couple of weeks while they upload it onto their system and it becomes available to book wholesalers.

This time around I found that Askews and Bertrams already had my book listed on their databases because I had listed it with Nielsen’s PubWeb system, which enables publishers to list details of their published books. However, this doesn’t always mean that libraries can access a copy as some wholesalers have a separate division that deals with libraries. It can be confusing at times as you get told a different story each time you speak to someone. Therefore, I would recommend ensuring that full details of your book are listed with BDS and with each of the three main wholesalers before approaching libraries.

Good luck with your ventures and please feel free to leave comments below if you have any questions.

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16 thoughts on “Selling your Books to UK Libraries

  1. I am sure this post will come in very useful for a lot of people Diane, hopefully I will be one of them. It sounds like you are a real expert on libraries now. They should prove instrumental in helping spread the word about your two books and your forthcoming novel.

  2. Thanks Guy. I hope that other people will benefit from this post. I must get round to registering for royalties so that I can get an idea of how often the first book was borrowed; then there’s the financial gain of course. 🙂

  3. Thanks for this very clear & concise factsheet Diane; I thought I’d seen something about it in amongst all the ‘bumph’ I received from Nielsen after registering, but I was mistaken, so this saves me a great deal of searching! Thanks again 😀

  4. This is a wonderfully informative post . I have a question if the book is published by create a space and you have a publisher with an isbn already assigned by the publisher how do you register then?

  5. Hi, just wanted to say that I found your articles quite useful. Because of you, I registered with Nielsen instead of using createspace’s isbn, i registered with the bds, i held a book reading at 7 libraries and even sold several copies, i used your recommended printer biddles. that saved me from crying as they are more competitively priced than the other printers i found. so thank you. this is the first time i fully appreciate the power of a blog

    here’s my book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Yetunde-Life-Times-Yoruba-London-ebook/dp/B014164Z0E/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8 it took 4 weeks for nielsen to distribute the info. Amazon has listed the book as unavailable. I contacted them and they said I need to contact the publisher, but i am the publisher. do you have any idea what I need to do?

    here’s a video i made for an aspiring writer, with the tips i picked up from you. maybe you can share it with your readers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZHk8jM8gKY

    • Ben, sorry but I could no longer get the link to work either so it must have changed. This is a very old blog post and I am not aware of a new URL. Sorry I couldn’t be of further help.

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