Beginning November 1, 2019, Macmillan Publishers, one of the top five publishers in the U.S., changed its ebook pricing and availability policy for libraries. Rather than allow libraries to purchase as many copies as desired on the date a book is published, Macmillan now restricts initial sales to just a single copy. After a subsequent eight-week embargo on that title, libraries can buy additional copies, at a higher price.
The American Library Association (ALA) is fighting back. Their initial statement about the embargo can be found here.
An open letter to librarians from Macmillan CEO John Sargent claims the increase in ebook lending by libraries has resulted in a decrease in ebook purchasing by readers. ALA’s response asserts that they have asked for, but not received, evidence to support Macmillan’s claims on this point.
The Ypsilanti District Library is a member of The Library Network (TLN), a regional consortium of libraries that work together to provide cost-effective library services. Within TLN, the E-Content Users Group is made up of representatives from the 50+ libraries that pool money and volunteers to bring you the Download Destination collection, which many of you access via the Libby or OverDrive apps. This group has decided to follow the lead of libraries around the country that are either outright boycotting Macmillan ebooks, or taking a wait and see approach to the Macmillan change in terms. As a result, we will not be purchasing newly published Macmillan ebooks for the foreseeable future. Some of Macmillan’s top authors include Louise Penny, Nora Roberts, Liane Moriarty, Kristin Hannah, and Lisa Scottoline. Downloadable audiobooks are unaffected.
Libraries pay a significantly higher price for ebooks than the price individuals are charged. For example, one currently popular title, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, costs libraries $55 for a single copy through OverDrive. The same title can be purchased by individuals on Amazon for $14.99. Since libraries try to meet patron demand by buying numerous copies of popular titles, the TLN Download Destination collection “owns” 20 copies of this ebook (our cap for any single title), until each one expires and disappears from our collection in 24 months. Rest assured we are doing our best to provide you with a great digital collection as we operate in an expensive, complicated, and ever-changing marketplace.
Ypsilanti District Library patrons are reading ebooks more than ever, and we encourage you to continue doing so. In addition to the Download Destination collection, check out our hoopla collection, which includes over 500,000 ebook, audiobook, movie, TV show, comic, and music titles. Macmillan titles are not included in hoopla.