Reflections on our ebook work in 2023, and what comes next

By Micah May, December 19, 2023.
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Dear Friends of DPLA,

As 2023 draws to a close, I want to thank each of you in DPLA’s ebook community for your continued support of and enthusiasm for our efforts to expand access. 2023 was a year of great growth in our ebooks work, and I wanted to reflect on some of those highlights with you: 

  • Growth of The Palace Project. The most important way DPLA works to expand access is through our partnership with Lyrasis to support The Palace Project, which provides a not-for-profit, library-driven e-reader app and platform for digital content access. In 2023, Palace saw enormous growth, in both libraries using the app and in content sales. There are now 562 libraries live with Palace and the Palace Marketplace now offers over 1.6 million titles, including from Amazon Publishing, Audible, and nearly half a million self-published books.  The team made (and continues to make) significant improvements to the app experience, improving stability and core functionality with a strong focus on accessibility. As always, if you’re interested in discussing how your library can benefit from Palace, please get in touch
  • The Banned Book Club.  In July, we announced (with help from Barack Obama!) the launch of The Banned Book Club, our effort to ensure that all readers have access to the books they want to read. The Banned Book Club makes digital copies of books that have been banned available to readers in locations across the United States where titles have been removed from libraries. More than 900 banned books are available to readers in these communities for free via the Palace e-reader app. 
  • Bringing Indie Titles to Libraries.  In 2023, we launched the Indie Catalog on the Palace Marketplace, which offers libraries access to over half a million self-published titles, bringing the total Palace Marketplace offering to more than 1.2 million ebooks and audiobooks from all of the “Big 5” Publishers, Amazon Publishing, Audible, hundreds of mid-sized and independent publishers, and independent authors. We also launched our IndieSelections, collections of titles hand-picked by our Curation Corps of librarians. I am proud of this effort and how it helps libraries expand access to diverse content at reasonable terms while supporting independent authors. 

As we begin to look toward 2024, there are several areas of our work I am particularly excited about:

  • Increasing library ownership of digital content.  DPLA already offers multiple library-friendly licensing models from more than 100 publishers through Palace Marketplace.  Next year, we hope to more than double the number of publishers offering these library-friendly options. But, while libraries can provide access to many titles digitally, and we have and continue to work to provide them with better licensing options, libraries generally can only license that content and cannot own it outright, the way they do with physical books. In our ongoing conversations with libraries, we’ve heard how ownership of digital content could provide significant benefits for them, especially by enabling long-term preservation. To meet this demand, we are working to develop a legal and operational model around digital ownership for libraries that we hope to launch early in 2024 that will allow libraries to own their digital content without taking on the operational responsibility for hosting files. See this post for more about this effort
  • Growing our Indie Selections. We believe that self-published works offer opportunities for libraries to provide access to a wider diversity of high-quality content. We also recognize that libraries need help sorting through the nearly half a million self-published titles in our Indie Catalog and identifying those that would be of most interest to their communities. To address this need, DPLA’s Curation Corps of librarians has been carefully reviewing the most popular self-published books to create our Indie Selections, which you can browse here:  In 2024, I look forward to seeing these selections expand and to hearing from more libraries who have acquired them. To learn more about how libraries can benefit from self-publishing please join our free webinar, Collaborating for Access: Libraries and Independent Authors, presented by COSLA, DPLA, and ReadersFirst, on Wednesday, February 1, at 3p ET.
  • Building a Bridge Between Libraries and Indie Publishers. On April 2, 2023, immediately prior to the PLA conference in Columbus, DPLA will join forces with the Independent Publisher Caucus to co-host the IndieLib 2024 summit for librarians and independent publishers to help identify ways they can work together to expand access. Find out more.

Those of you who know me personally may know that in the past few years, I have begun to practice mindfulness and meditation. As part of my daily meditations, I review things I am grateful for. One of those things is always my good fortune to work at Digital Public Library of America, where I am lucky to be part of a fun, kind, professional, and talented team dedicated to helping expand access to information, education, and culture. Thank you for being a part of that work, and for your continued support of DPLA. 

All the best, 

Micah May

Director of Ebook Services

Digital Public Library of America