Libraries protest greed in publishing with embargo

Libraries around the country are boycotting Macmillan Publishers who recently put a new policy into effect regarding ebooks.

Starting Nov. 1, regardless of library size, libraries will only be able to purchase one copy of the ebook for the first eight weeks of publication. After the eight weeks are up, libraries can purchase additional licenses for $60. 

The license does not cover the book’s lifetime in the library, though. It covers the book until it has been in the library’s collection for two years, or until it has had 52 checkouts, whichever comes first.

Macmillan is charging libraries $30 for the one copy of the ebook. A typical ebook is $15 or less.

Macmillan put this policy in effect because they believe ebook sales are rising with public libraries, but not with consumers, according to Publisher’s Weekly.

John Sargent Jr., CEO of Macmillan Publishers,  said, “If library users cannot gain access to a new ebook from their library, eight percent of those waiting will likely buy the ebook.”

Chief Officers of State Library Agencies chair Cindy Aden said, “Few readers faced with wait times for a new release would choose to purchase the book directly instead of waiting, even if those wait times are significant.”

S. R. Ranganathan developed a set of rules in 1931. They became known as the Five Laws of Library Science. Ranganathan’s first law is “books are for use.”

This ebook embargo is a complete disregard for Rangnathan’s first law. Books are meant to be read and shared. They are not meant to be kept from people because of worries about profits.

The American Library Association, Public Library Association, and other allies delivered over 160,000 signatures to Macmillan executives on Oct. 30. The ALA started the #ebooksforall petition shortly after the new policy was announced.

The #ebooksforall petition states that the embargo would “limit libraries’ ability to provide access to information for all” and “particularly harms library patrons with disabilities or learning issues.”

The debate over physical books versus ebooks is one that is constant. Some people argue that ebooks are not “true” books. For patrons who have disabilities or learning disabilities, ebooks are incredibly helpful. The font size can be adjusted to suit a person’s needs as well as the contrast. Sometimes, the font itself can be changed.

As a person who has a disability, ebooks are incredibly helpful. Ebooks are a way for me to be able to read works by my favorite authors, but not have to carry around a bunch of books. I can easily read them on my phone or computer.

E-materials are becoming more popular as people move to ebooks and other digital options that are becoming available. There are always going to be people who prefer physical books, of course, or say that ebooks are not “true” books.

Whatever side of the debate you are on, everyone should care about this ebook embargo. If this policy is successful, other publishers will follow. When other publishers start to make similar policies, libraries will be severely limited in what they can order.

Macmillan’s CEO said the company is not trying to hurt libraries. This is not true, though. Macmillan put this policy in place because they believe libraries are hurting ebook sales, according to Publisher’s Weekly.

Libraries are a way for people to read the latest books without having to buy them. Macmillan’s newest policy makes this significantly more difficult by limiting access for readers. Limiting access for readers is detrimental for everyone.

Sign the #ebooksforall petition and take a stand against Macmillan’s ebook embargo.