by Julieta Lionetti
Following the close of LIBER in Barcelona this week, Liberdrac, a new e-book platform for the independent booksellers of Catalonia will go live. The platform is being launched in thanks to an agreement with Libranda — the distributor created by the Spanish Big Three — who will provide from logistics to e-reading devices Liberdrac (a version of the BQ touch, that will sell at the subsidised price of €139). The initial catalog offered will include Libranda’s 11,500 titles, of which some 2,000 are in Catalan
Sources from Gremi de Llibreters de Catalunya, the booksellers association of Catalonia, say that the partnership with Libranda is non-exclusive and Liberdrac is in early negotiations with Edi.cat, the Catalan counterpart of Libranda founded by 30 independent Catalan publishers, to add those titles to the selection.
The good news that indie booksellers, until recently absolutely reluctant to anything digital, have taken a step forward even if reticence remains. Up till today, just 40 independent booksellers from Catalonia have signed to participate in Liberdrac. Antoni Daura, president of the Gremi is convinced that more will join the venture when the platform goes live.
In a business model is similar to the one launched by the American Booksellers Association in partnership with Google several years ago (Google will end the project at the end of this year and will replaced by Kobo). Liberdrac will sell e-books from their own website and also from each of the bookstores associated with the project. The aim is to open the digital market for smaller booksellers and help larger ones to cut costs. The booksellers websites will also be powered by Libranda.
Liberdrac has also announced the future inclusion of English titles, which they will access thanks to Overdrive’s agreement with Libranda. These titles will be largely be focused on the academic market and will have one distinct drawback: Adobe DRM. While served directly by Libranda will benefit of a brand new DRM developed in-house that allows customers to make one-click purchases, purchasing English titles will require several additional steps.
Liberdrac, a Catalan venture, expects to expand to other Catalan speaking regions in Spain, like Valencia and Majorca to join.
The fears that kept booksellers far from e-books still echo in Daura’s words: “Certainly a project like this has its risks, because ours is a weak part of the book chain, and because there is not enough public. There have been failures here and out there. But we believe that it is time to invest in digital books. Arriving late in emerging markets can also mean failure,” he said. As if naming the wolf would keep it at bay.