Starting this November, a major publisher implemented a new licensing restriction on public libraries across the country that could hinder libraries from carrying out their mission to deliver eBooks in a timely manner.
On November 1, Macmillan Publishing changed its licensing terms to allow all public libraries to purchase only one copy each of its e-book new releases for the first eight weeks. The new rule means every library in the nation—no matter if they have two branches or 50—will only have one copy of new Macmillan e-book releases to lend to their entire communities for the first eight weeks of publication. Patrons can expect hold lists and wait times to be longer.
The company cites its decision based on concerns that its eBook sales are suffering because of library lending practices. In other words, the publisher feels its profit margin is being cut short because people are checking out eBooks for free from libraries rather than purchasing the material. However, what you may not know is libraries pay a lot more for eBooks than the average consumer. Libraries like NNPL pay anywhere from three to five times the retail price. For example, the latest John Grisham release, The Guardians, is $14.99 on Kindle. NNPL paid $55 for the same eBook. In addition, publishers like Macmillan are forcing libraries to re-license content after 1 or 2 years.
Macmillan’s decision hurts readers, punishes library users, and infringes on public libraries’ mission to provide unfettered access to information and content. Along with many other public libraries in the commonwealth and country, NNPL has decided to stop purchasing newly released Macmillan eBooks for those first eight weeks in hopes that Macmillan and other publishers realize the value of equitable access to digital content.
This decision by NNPL does not impact eBooks released by other publishing companies. We will still buy Macmillan books in other formats, such as print and audio.