overdrive logoNate at The Digital Reader has a story about an author discovering that books from Smashwords have been segregated in the Overdrive system.

According to the article, author Maria Schneider made the discovery when she talked to a librarian friend to make sure they were available.

Well. Smashwords does ship the books to Overdrive. HOWEVER, in order for the librarian to even FIND the books in the list, she had to spend a lot of time researching. None of the usual methods worked: Title, nope. Author name, nope. OH. Turns out there is a box on overdrive underneath some other menu…labeled “Self-published.” Once she FOUND that menu and clicked that box and did a search, well THEN the titles would show up. The button was not obvious and had she not known me personally and asked someone else about it…they would never have found my titles at all.

Bolding was added by Nate who went on to print a response from Overdrive that, no, they aren’t segregated, they are split off like the important and valuable collection they are. Yep, so important and valuable that a trained librarian had difficulty finding it.

I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not. Yes, there are awful self-published books out there. (And yes, there are horrible trad-published ones as well.) I get that libraries are on limited funds and have to make both time and money choices. I kind of figured that the Smashwords/Overdrive deal wouldn’t lead to many self-published books making it onto digital library shelves, but I didn’t anticipate that the process itself would make it more difficult.

This reinforces what I was planning to do anyway. I’d like to see my books in my library, and I was willing to donate the money to have them there. I’m still not sure exactly what I have to do to make it happen, but I’ll contact my library and ask. I suggest other Smashwords authors do the same. Since you’ll get paid for the sale, it’s not like it’ll cost you that much, and you’ll guarantee they are available.


  1. Galen, appreciate the link. Lots of good info there.

    And really like Juli’s idea, “I’d like to see my books in my library, and I was willing to donate the money to have them there. I’m still not sure exactly what I have to do to make it happen, but I’ll contact my library and ask.”

    Juli, is this where you would donate $ to the library to buy your paperbacks, like from Createspace, etc.? Thanks!

    • @Felipe, yes, basically, although it my case, it’ll be to buy the ebooks from Overdrive. I don’t (yet) have paper versions. When I do, I’ll likely just donate them directly.

  2. The “trained librarian” is obviously not skilled enough to click on the “news” tab in Content Reserve where there is instructions on how to find the self-published books. I am a librarian and I’ve been buying as many Smashwords titles as I can fit into my monthly budget. Don’t attribute one person’s incompetence to a failure of libraries or Overdrive.

    I expect the real reason why Overdrive is separating them to begin with is the MASSIVE injection of books into their system would completely overwhelm anyone trying to select titles (and really hamper some author’s works even being found amongst all the glut of new titles being added). I fully expect to see the Smashwords titles integrated into the main collection of Overdrive just as soon as they can get the books flowing in there on a regular basis rather than large clumps of them at a time.

  3. James, ditto Juli’s comment.

    That’s a very helpful hopeful comment for us as writers and readers.

    Mark Coker indicated to me on a comment thread that he’ll have an update soon on the Smashwords blog, probably with news related to just all that.

    Thanks so much,


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.