Libraries account for a lot of book sales for authors, but especially for those published with Five Star, Avalon, Ulverscroft, and some of the other companies with a solid list of library clients. So how can you find out if a library or library system bought your book? World Cat is a website that can help you out.
If you've been sending promo materials to libraries, learning whether your promo resulted in a sale is especially valuable information, and you can find this information at WorldCat, the world's largest network of library content and services. They provide Web access to their resources. If you click the link, you'll be taken to their site.
1. In the Search box, enter your name or ISBN and click search.
2. Scroll through the results, and when you find your name, click on the link or links.
3. A page for your book will open. Below will be tabs, and the total number of editions in the libaries will be shown. The tabs are: Library, Detail, Subject, Edition, Reviews.
4. On the Library tab, fill in your zip code. The results will be a list all the libraries that have your book along with the mileage from your zip code to that library.
Wait, There's More
Register as a User on this site. You can add information to your listings and even post reviews for your works.
Additionally, you can find the details on foreign translations of your books.
If you're really into information gathering for your own statistical purposes, do a search at various times during the life of your book. You may find with your first search that 200 copies have been bought by libraries. Months later or even a year, that number may change.
We had a discussion on one of my author lists about how your numbers can go down at libraries.
Libraries rotate their inventory now, just like book stores though perhaps not as frequently. About every year or two, most library systems purge their stacks. Some may do it on a shorter time schedule now.
Libraries base this purge on the number of times a book has been checked out. If the numbers aren't high enough, they pull the book.
When books are purged, the library system adjusts their computer data to represent the fact that the books are no longer in their system so your numbers would decrease over time.
The books removed from libraries are sold to jobbers who in turn sell the books in retail outlets. You may have been in a brick and mortar store and seen hardback books with library check out slips inside the covers or with library stamps on them somewhere. These are purged books.
The bookstore resells them for a buck to about half their original list price.
Unfortunately, the author doesn't get any more money even though the book has now been sold twice, actually three times if you count the jobber.
If you Google your books or check Amazon, B&N, etc. you'll see they have used copies for sale for varying prices. Read the description copy, and you may find notations that it's a library copy or may have library stamps. More purged books being resold.
I've actually bought some of my older hardcover editions by hunting for them online. So if you need copies of your older books, this is a good way to find them. That and possibly another reader discovering you are the only bit of silver lining those discouraging gray clouds of this scenario.
What You Can Do
If you want to make sure the library keeps you, you need to let your local library system know you are a local author or make sure your book is checked out often. Hard, if not impossible, huh? Don't be so sure about that.
Local authors who support their libraries and are known by the library can give speeches, workshops, or just drop by for a book chat once in a while. You can't do this for every library, but you should do it for your local one.
The Takeaway Truth
What? You don't think of libraries when you're making those promotion plans for meeting the book-reading public?
Well, maybe you should start, but first visit World Cat.