Expanding ebook access at public libraries has been, well, an ongoing process. But one site is aiming to have an impact, giving libraries a chance to offer their patrons digital titles by independent authors.
JukePop—a Palo Alto, CA-based start-up that crowdsources independently published books—is teaming up with public libraries to let readers check out titles, one chapter at a time. A trial service began at the Santa Clara (CA) County Library (SCCLD) in April 2014. This week, JukePop launched a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to raise $15,000 to expand its library service to 60 additional branches in states including California, Utah, and Arizona.
“The key is to make the platform really useable for libraries,” says Jerry Fan, JukePop’s founder and CEO. “We want to eliminate a lot of the manual work, so they can manage the indie catalogue through our site.”
Pledges of $25 or more will earn donors the right to nominate a library branch of their choosing—with each nomination pushing branches higher on the priority list. If JukePop’s Kickstarter is fully funded—the campaign closes October 15—the site will spend $10,000 to streamline its software, with the remaining $5,000 used to launch the service to libraries—for free.
SCCLD and JukePop’s initial co-launch earned them a 2014 Innovation Leader award through the Urban Libraries Council, and since April, more than 1,060 people have used the service through SCCLD’s website. Megan Wong, virtual library manager, is encouraged by those numbers.
“It’s pretty fantastic,” she says.
JukePop’s core service works by allowing independent writers to submit stories to run on its platform one chapter at a time. The site gives readers a chance to offer feedback on the stories by voting on them and submitting comments. The best pieces rise to the top.
Wong says SCCLD had been looking for ways to bring self-published books to their community, but hadn’t found a good avenue until she met JukePop’s CEO Jerry Fan, who created a single line of code, which allowed the library to serve selected JukePop titles to patrons. Titles that have gone through JukePop’s analytics and have some resonance with readers are sent to Wong and SCCLD librarians, who select those books they think their readers will connect with the most. To Fan it’s a win not only for libraries—but for its own users as well.
“Libraries are untapped resources for authors,” he says. “The minute a book gets into libraries you’re instantly in front of millions of avid readers who, if they like a book, will talk about it and tell their friends. Indie authors need to tap into this.”