On November 1, 2019 Macmillan Publishers will embargo eBook copies of their titles so that libraries can only purchase one copy initially and have to wait 8 weeks to get full access to purchase more.

Read this piece from Technology Services Librarian Katie Puckett on what Macmillan's policy means for libraries and patrons. You can find links to more information at the bottom of the article.

Update: Effective November 1, 2019, Southwest Public Libraries, in conjunction with their Digital Download Collaboration partner libraries, will no longer be purchasing newly released eBooks from Macmillan Publishers.




Libraries create readers. This is not a controversial statement, but Macmillan Publishers seems to have forgotten that without readers, they wouldn’t have customers who want to buy the product they sell.

I grew up in a lower-middle class household where we had plenty to eat, a warm house and enough money for new shoes and clothes when we needed them (although I wore A LOT of my sister’s hand-me-downs – thanks, sis!) What we didn’t have was money to support the middle child’s (that’s me!) excessive reading habit. Enter the public library.

I was a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. I would visit the library with my mom and checkout 25 books – Sweet Valley High, The Baby-Sitter’s Club, Little House on the Prairie, Lurlene McDaniel, Fear Street and a few hidden Harlequin romances thrown in along the way. I was always ready to visit the library again after a week, and it still wasn’t enough. I spent high school and college speed-reading romance novels between study sessions. Since then my tastes have broadened to anything that entertains and enlightens.

Without the library, I never would have had the opportunity to read as much as I did. I’ve checked out far more books than I’ve ever purchased, and I suppose people like me (who mostly borrow instead of buy) are the reason that Macmillan is making it harder and more expensive for libraries to purchase their e-books. But I do buy books: I buy them as gifts, I buy them when I just can’t wait for my copy from the library, I buy them because the cover is beautiful or I want to own a copy of something I loved. The library made me a reader, and the library made me a consumer of books.

On November 1, 2019 Macmillan Publishers will embargo eBook copies of their titles so that libraries can only purchase one copy initially and have to wait 8 weeks to get full access to purchase more. As more and more library patrons check out eBooks, this will have a devastating effect on our library’s ability to fill this demand.

Macmillan may gain new customers in the short-run from this move, but they are also curtailing their own clientele’s love of reading. In the end, without support from public libraries, new, insatiable readers will be fewer, lesser-known authors will have a hard time getting exposure and Macmillan will lose what they didn’t know they had – customers who buy from them because they learned to love reading at their local library.

Macmillan is simply trying to make as much money as they conceivably can to satisfy their shareholders, but they are being shortsighted. They believe that individual consumers can make up for the millions of dollars that public libraries spend each year on e-content. SPL’s collaboration, Digital Downloads, spent almost $2 million in 2018 on e-books. Will our patrons who lose access to these titles from their library, step up and buy enough to cover the loss of library revenue to Macmillan? Time will tell.

However, libraries are making the difficult decision to no longer purchase Macmillan eBooks. We cannot reasonably expect our patrons to wait more than 6 months+ for a hold to come in for them. It is for this reason that Southwest Public Libraries will no longer purchase new Macmillan titles in eBook form. You will still be able to borrow a physical copy or an e-audiobook from us, but new release Macmillan eBooks will no longer be available.

We hope that our patrons understand our reasoning – we have to make a stand for libraries and our patrons so that more publishers don’t follow suit. To find out more information and to sign the American Library Association’s #eBooksForAll petition, please visit https://ebooksforall.org/.

Share your love of reading with us! Tag us #southwestpubliclibraries #Ireadbecause #ebooksforall . . . We might highlight your love of reading on social media or in our next Happenings!

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