Ask The Experts – Library Market

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Topics Discussed Below Include:
Catering to the Library Market (Design Choices)
CIP Assistance


If one wants to cater especially to the academic library market, and, also, to public libraries, what should one think about in terms of bindings? Is sewn bindings, smyth sewn or others, an advantage, and, if so, for all libraries, or just some?

Also, how much is hardcover a plus for libraries?

I am publishing a new translation of a major great European 19th century writer. This is a serious, literary book for which library sales could be crucial.

Furthermore, any pointers/hints/links as to how to learn more about the library market would be most welcome! I am most grateful for any advice in these regards!

Answer (09/2013):

There is a library binding, which is a more durable form of case binding. Libraries like it. If they buy the book in a traditional binding, they may rebind it if they expect it to have a heavy demand or a lot of abuse. Library binding frees them from having to do this. Other things being equal, library binding is an incentive.

However, other things are not necessarily equal. Library binding is more expensive. Not all printers are able to do a library binding, so your choice of printers is limited. Other printers can farm the binding out, but that only adds to the expense. And a library binding alone does not mean the libraries will buy your book.

It’s impossible to estimate how many additional sales you can expect from the library binding. One the one hand, the additional cost means the book has to be priced higher. You will be butting up somewhat against the library’s budget, and you will be hurting your bookstore and on-line sales. If those are part of your marketing plan, you may want to consider doing a split run, binding some books with library binding and the rest with a trade binding. I have never seen it done, but you might order a certain number unbound signatures so you can bind them when you know the demand.

The library market, like the trade market, is experiencing a lot of changes. They have been hurt by budget cuts, and many of them are experimenting with audio books, e-books, and other packaging options. I do not know how much those factors are changing the constraints under which libraries are operating. Before you decide on a binding, find out. Contact some library buyers as well as library distributors and jobbers. They can probably give you current answers to this and other questions.

The ALA can also give you some guidance. See> for a start.
I hope this helps.

Bob Goodman has published books and provided services to the publishing community since1988. A former IBPA board member, he is the founder of Writers and Publishers of San Diego (an IBPA affiliate), a founding faculty member of the La Jolla Writers Conference, and a frequent presenter at IBPA’s Publishing University.


I am Looking for assistance in getting CIP. Can you help?

Answer (07/2013):

I am happy to help. Without knowing your question, let me begin by offering these resources:

Cataloging in Publication Program: A Cataloging in Publication record (aka CIP data) is a bibliographic record prepared by the Library of Congress for a book that has not yet been published. When the book is published, the publisher includes the CIP data on the copyright page thereby facilitating book processing for libraries and book dealers. –

FAQ’s about (CIP):

Additionally, our friend, Joel Friedlander has this to say in his blog, “The Book Designer” about the CIP program:

Please let me know if you require further assistance.

~ Lisa Krebs was hired by Jan Nathan and Publishers Marketing Association (now IBPA) in 1998 and has been a sounding board and advocate for independent publishers for the past 15 years. She was previously contracted for West Coast publicity by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books and Disney/Hyperion.

We hope you will find this program useful, but as with any advice, we recommend that you make sure it fits your specific business needs. IBPA does not specifically endorse or support any particular group or service.


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