Sno-Isle Libraries urges reversal on ebook access restriction

Beginning on Nov. 1, Macmillan Publishers, home to best-selling authors like Nora Roberts, Kristin Hannah and Brandon Sanderson, will restrict libraries to one ebook copy of each new Macmillan title. After an eight week embargo, libraries can buy additional ebook copies to meet their customers’ needs.

In August, Sno-Isle Libraries Executive Director Lois Langer Thompson sent a letter to Macmillan CEO John Sargent urging him to reverse the company’s decision. Thompson pointed out that the Panorama Project, a collaborative market research effort, shows public-library access to ebooks actually results in more sales to consumers, not fewer.

Thompson also said that Macmillan’s decision strikes at the heart of the premise that access to information is fundamental to a free and democratic society.

Sno-Isle Libraries customers checked out more than 2 million digital items in 2018 and are on pace to break that record in 2019. Macmillan ranks fourth on the list of publishers with material purchased by Sno-Isle Libraries.

For Sno-Isle Libraries, the path forward at this time is to continue to provide access to materials for the communities and the customers served by the library district. Sno-Isle Libraries will purchase the one ebook copy Macmillan makes available on publication date and then purchase additional copies following the eight-week waiting period.

Sno-Isle Libraries staff members will manage holds placed by customers on Macmillan ebooks with a focus on providing timely access. The number of customer holds on print versions of Macmillan titles will also be closely monitored in the event of increased demand.

Sno-Isle Libraries remains concerned about the changing sales practices of publishers that result in barriers to public access. Public libraries’ ability to purchase and circulate digital materials is an important and growing service to customers. Sno-Isle Libraries will continue to work toward solutions that meet the needs of customers and communities.

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