Seeing Krysta’s post about the embargo reminded me I had things to say about this. Her post has so much information in it so I’d recommend checking it out.
I use the library’s ebook and audiobook services quite a bit. We have Overdrive and Axis360, which is more of a lucky day program where you can only check out one book at a time and can’t put holds on anything. Because my library card is attached to these I got this glorious email:
Because of your interest in ebooks, digital audiobooks, and Wisconsin’s Digital Library, we wanted to share some information about Macmillan publishing.
Macmillan is taking steps to limit libraries’ purchasing of their ebooks and digital audiobooks for 8 weeks after titles are published. This change will impact how quickly you will be able to read any new titles from Macmillan in Wisconsin’s Digital Library.
We’ve prepared a brief Q&A below about the change. We hope you’ll take the time to read it, take action if you are so motivated, and share it with others.Q&A ABOUT MACMILLAN CHANGES
What’s happening with Macmillan?
Macmillan, one of the “Big 5” publishers in the United States and publisher to many best selling authors, including Stephen King and Nora Roberts, has decided to severely limit the number of e-book and digital audiobook copies that libraries are able to purchase in the first eight weeks after a title’s publication. This is called an “embargo.” After this embargo period, libraries will be able to provide full access to these titles, but at increased prices.
What does this mean for Wisconsin’s Digital Library patrons?
There will be extremely limited access to Macmillan titles the first eight weeks after publication. We will be allowed to purchase 16 copies of any title for the entire state. Assuming two-week lending periods, only 84 patrons in Wisconsin will have the opportunity to read these titles during the first eight weeks.
Hold times for Macmillan titles will increase. Because there will be more unmet demand from the first eight weeks of publication, hold lines will be longer unless we choose to purchase many more copies of Macmillan titles. It’s unlikely that we will choose to spend more money with Macmillan, given their unfriendly policies toward libraries. We want to invest money with publishers that support libraries and library patrons. We may be making purchasing choices to redirect money away from Macmillan.
What can I do to help?
The American Library Association (ALA) has a petition that you can sign to tell Macmillan you don’t agree with this policy.
Now, there is a super long article about the reasoning and effects of this embargo here. But here’s basically why this is a bad idea in case you’re new to the way ebooks work within library systems from my understanding.
Basically, each publishing house is different. Some give you unlimited reads for x amount of time, others it’s x price for x amount of books for x amount of time. This is because it mimics the wear and tear of physical books. Plus a library may want more copies right after a release date of popular authors or overly hyped books but once the hype dies down they’ll won’t repurchase that amount of books.
Now. Macmillan is one of the biggest publishing houses in the US. Along with their normal imprint they also have smaller imprints including Tor, Flatiron and St. Martin’s Press. Meaning their reach is a lot farther than you think it is.
Macmillan is doing this in order for more people to buy the books themselves instead of borrowing from the library because it would get them more money. However, many that’s restrictive for those who don’t have the money to buy ebooks for themselves. It also punishes disabled people who can’t or don’t want to physically go to the library for a physical copy.
With this embargo the hold lists will be a lot longer. They’re already at over six months for a new release and that list is going to get even longer. Now, we know this is due to libraries only having buying a set number of copies due to budgets. This embargo will make those lists even longer because they can’t buy multiple copies until after eight weeks. After eight weeks book are off the radar of purchasing agents. It’s not your library’s fault the lists are long.
What can you do?
- Speak out about it- social media, blogs, tell your friends.
- Sign the petition
- Share ALA’s resources everywhere
- Submit an op-ed to your local paper
- Write to Macmillan’s CEO
- Don’t blame authors or libraries