Bilbary Takes Next Steps in Turning Libraries Into Sales Channels

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In building partnerships with libraries in Kansas, Denver and, just announced today, California, e-bookstore Bilbary is attempting to create a new e-books sales channel through libraries.

Bilbary has built a series of links on library websites that take patrons to the Bilbary site where they can buy e-books. The library who referred the patron gets 50% of the profit from the purchase.

Today, Bilbary announced that it has extended this partnership to the Califa library network, a large network of libraries in California. Califa has been very active in recent months in experimenting with e-book programs.

“I want to find ways that library patrons can access the huge catalog of e-books that exist as cheaply as possible,” said Bilbary CEO Tim Coates in an email.  This new service is “very simple, it costs the libraries nothing and hopefully earns them a small income and can add to the other services they offer.”

Part of the point of the program is to entice e-book borrowers to become e-book buyers.

“Call it the ‘instant gratification’ button,” Coates said. “If a patron wants an e-book that the library either does not have available, or for which there is a long wait time, then they can choose to buy and download and benefit the library by the process.”

Bilbary also intends to use the service to gather information for publishers on what kinds of titles are popular among library patrons. Soon, the company will offer the service to school libraries as well.

In the future, Bilbary will seek to have deeper connections with libraries, said Coates, like giving libraries a technology platform to provide e-book rentals. For now, Bilbary is taking its program “one step at a time,” said Coates.

Califa library network has been very aggressive about exploring e-book programs for its patrons. In March, it implemented an e-book ownership system. In June, it signed a deal with Smashwords to turn itself into a community publisher. And in early August, it extended its relationship with Smashwords to offer a select amount of the self-publishing site’s e-book catalog to library patrons for borrowing.

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