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Alameda County Library

Library News

eBook Lovers Unite!

by Alicia Reyes on 2019-11-01T12:21:00-07:00 | Comments

Starting today, November 1st, Macmillan Publishers, one of the “Big 5” book publishers in the United States, will limit your access to new eBooks through libraries. All public libraries, big or small, will only be able to buy ONE copy of any new eBook for the first eight weeks after its release.

This change can make wait times for new eBooks soar. You could be waiting up to a year for new popular eBooks from the authors you love, such as Nora Roberts, Clive Barker, Kristin Hannah, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jeffrey Archer, and many more.

Why Is Macmillan Doing this?

Macmillan claims libraries undercut publishers' profits by allowing readers free access to materials that they would otherwise purchase.

Our Response to Macmillan’s Claims

While we understand that Macmillan needs to think about its bottom line, we know that libraries play an essential role in promoting authors, books, and a rich reading culture. Libraries connect readers to authors and books in so many ways, from hosting author events with book signings and book sales, to providing personalized book recommendations, to featuring books through displays and reading lists.

Many studies show that library users don’t just borrow books (or eBooks) from libraries. They discover books, promote books to friends, and purchase books. Here’s a few studies by Overdrive, Pew Research, and the Panorama Project.  

According to a recent report released by the American Library Association, over the past 10 years, libraries have spent more than $40 billion acquiring eBooks as well as streamed music and audiovisual content from publishers. For popular eBook titles libraries pay up to FIVE times the price an individual consumer pays and, unlike the individual, libraries typically have access to an eBook title for only two years, or a limited number of checkouts. 

We understand that the business models for digital media are rapidly changing. We want to be a part of developing a solution that works for both Macmillan and public libraries nationwide.     

How Does this eBook Embargo Harm Readers?

Macmillan’s actions harm all readers, especially those with limited resources. It goes against the central mission of public libraries—to provide free, equitable access to all information—in different formats.

Many people rely on public libraries for access to digital information; not everyone can afford to purchase digital content, or every new eBook that comes out. eBooks offer options that make reading accessible for older adults, people with dyslexia and visual disabilities, who require large-print or different fonts, and people with physical disabilities who require lightweight and easy to hold devices such as eReaders. People who live in rural areas or who have difficulties getting to a library also rely on eBooks and digital content that they can access online.

What You Can Do 

We ask all eBook lovers to stand behind public libraries’ ability to deliver digital content. Please take action by signing this petition today.


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