Macmillan Publishing Company announced a library e-book embargo in late July. Under Macmillan’s new pricing model, a library may purchase one copy upon release of a new title in e-book format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to the library. The additional copies will then be available for two years of access. This means the library will no longer own the title after two years. This is called metered licensing.

Another metered access option that publishers use for library purchases is a limited number of checkouts per title purchased. Perpetual licenses that allow libraries to purchase and own an e-book title are becoming increasingly rare. The metered access model often means that older titles expire from the collection and are not purchased again as the library can’t always afford to replace them. Our limited funds are spent on newer, more popular titles that patrons expect. However, this removes the rich backlog of older titles from the collection.

Libraries already pay a higher price for e-book purchases than is charged to consumers. The metered access lending model has been slowly taking over the e-book content libraries can purchase. Now, Macmillan is imposing an eight-week embargo on purchasing additional copies of a new e-book title after the initial purchase.

You can help!

On September 11, 2019, the American Library Association (ALA) and Public Library Association (PLA) announced a public campaign in response to recent efforts to limit library access to e-books. ALA debuted an online petition at eBooksForAll.org for members of the public to urge Macmillan Publishers CEO John Sargent to reverse the proposed embargo on e-books sold to libraries.

Full text of petition as found on eBooksForAll.org 

America’s libraries are committed to promoting literacy and a love of reading with diverse collections, programs and services for all ages. In an increasingly digital world, our libraries are investing more in e-books and downloadable media. And millions of people discover and explore new and favorite authors through both our digital and print collections.

But now one publisher has decided to limit readers’ access to new e-book titles through their libraries. 

Beginning November 1, 2019, Macmillan Publishers will allow libraries to purchase only one copy of each new e-book title for the first eight weeks after a book’s release.

This embargo would limit libraries’ ability to provide access to information for all.  It particularly harms library patrons with disabilities or learning issues. One of the great things about e-books is that they can become large-print books with only a few clicks, and most e-book readers offer fonts and line spacing that make reading easier for people who have dyslexia or other visual challenges. Because portable devices are light and easy to hold, e-books are easier to use for some people who have physical disabilities.

Here’s the truth: Limiting access to new titles for libraries means limiting access for readers like you.

Macmillan is the only major publisher to propose such an embargo, and readers cannot stay silent.

The American Library Association and libraries across the country ask you to voice your opposition to Macmillan’s new policy by signing this petition and telling Macmillan’s CEO John Sargent that access to e-books should not be delayed or denied. We must have #eBooksforAll!

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.