City, county libraries join Macmillan boycott

Publisher restricts eBook access

Leader news staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 12/18/19

Leader news staffnews@ptleader.com

 

With other public library systems throughout the state, and across the country, choosing to boycott Macmillan eBooks, the City of Port Townsend Public …

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City, county libraries join Macmillan boycott

Publisher restricts eBook access

Posted

With other public library systems throughout the state, and across the country, choosing to boycott Macmillan eBooks, the City of Port Townsend Public Library and the Jefferson County Library have decided to follow suit.

Macmillan, one of five major publishers in the United States, announced a lending model that restricts public libraries to only one copy of newly released eBooks for the first eight weeks of publication.

When contacted by The Leader, Melody Sky Eisler, director of the Port Townsend Public Library, issued a joint statement on behalf of her library and the Jefferson County Library, about what the Cooperative Libraries of the Eastern Olympics (CLEO) have decided to do.

“Public libraries promote equitable access to information and resources, while encouraging a lifelong love of reading,” Eisler stated. “However, publishers have recently moved to charge libraries significantly more for eBooks and eAudiobooks than regular consumers, requiring libraries to re-purchase materials after 24 months, and are now embargoing new publications for months at a time.”

Macmillan CEO John Sargent, explaining the new policy to authors, illustrators and agents, said it’s a response to a growing problem for the book business.

“One thing is abundantly clear,” he wrote. “The growth in ebook lends through libraries has been remarkable. For Macmillan, 45% of the ebook reads in the U.S. are now being borrowed for free from libraries. And that number is still growing rapidly. The average revenue we get from those library reads (after the wholesaler share) is well under two dollars and dropping, a small fraction of the revenue we share with (authors and illustrators) on a retail read.”

“Historically we have been able to balance the great importance of libraries with the value of your work,” Sargent wrote. “The current e-lending system does not do that. We believe our new terms are a step toward reestablishing that balance.”

According to Eisler, this removes the ease of access that the city and county libraries strive to deliver to patrons — “and taxpayers!” — and incurs increased expenses for libraries.

“Also, Macmillan’s claim that selling eBooks and eAudiobooks to libraries seriously hurts their bottom line is false,” Eisler stated. “There is a significant amount of data that shows that many of our readers find new authors and new favorite works by checking them out from the library first, and then purchasing them later, in print and e-format.”

Eisler stated that it is for these reasons that the CLEO libraries, along with all libraries in the Washington Digital Library Consortium, began boycotting Macmillan eBooks and eAudiobooks on Nov. 1, 2019, and expect to do so through Dec. 31, 2020.

“We are prepared to order additional print or CD audiobook copies of Macmillan titles, if we see increased holds due to not having eBook or eAudiobook copies available,” Eisler stated. “Limiting access to new eBooks titles for libraries means limiting access to readers in our communities. That is why we are advocating for our patrons with this boycott!”

Eisler referred the public to ebooksforall.org to provide further insights on “libraries’ perspective on ensuring access to materials for all our readers.”

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