The Seattle Public Library Denounces Macmillan Policy to Limit Library Access to New E-Books
release date: 08/26/2019
The Seattle Public Library's Chief Librarian Marcellus Turner has released a statement Monday denouncing a new policy by Macmillan Publishers to limit the ability of public libraries to purchase new Macmillan titles in e-book format. Under the terms, which begin Nov. 1, a library may purchase only one copy of a newly released Macmillan e-book and won’t be able to buy additional copies for eight weeks.
“A critical way that The Seattle Public Library fulfills our mission of providing universal access to information and ideas is through e-books,” said Turner. “This embargo promises to significantly impact the vitality of our collection and our library users’ access to new titles.”
The Library circulated almost 3 million e-books and e-audiobooks last year, making it one of the leading public libraries in the world for digital lending. Demand for digital content is growing.
Macmillan’s policy is part of a growing trend among the nation’s biggest publishers to charge public libraries higher prices for e-books and e-audiobooks and to require licenses that expire after a certain number of circulations or period of time.
“This policy will affect all patrons, but especially those with limited resources,” said Turner. “It’s an equity issue.” The statement noted that busy urban library systems such as Seattle’s will be especially affected, since the policy is the same for all libraries no matter their size.
Macmillan is one of the five biggest publishers in the U.S. Recent bestsellers published by Macmillan include “The Moment of Lift,” by Melinda Gates and “Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered,” by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. High-interest Macmillan titles to be published in the fall of 2019 include “Permanent Record,” by Edward Snowden and “We Are the Weather,” by Jonathan Safran Foer. Its Tor imprint has been called the most successful science fiction/fantasy imprint in the world.
The Seattle Public Library has joined with public library systems, as well as with the American Library Association, in objecting to this policy as a threat to library principles of equal and open access. The statement lists several ways that the Seattle readers and writers can support libraries’ commitment to e-book access. These include sharing about the policy on social media using the hashtag #EbooksforAll and writing directly to Macmillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.