Charlotte Mecklenburg Library continuously strives to offer a diverse and popular collection of materials to our community. One way we do this is through a catalog of thousands of e-books available to our Library cardholders for free to checkout and read on their digital devices. This collection is so popular that last year we had more than 1.7 million checkouts of downloadable books and audiobooks. The popularity of our digital collections is exciting, however access to these items is now being threatened by rising pricing models for public libraries and new restrictive policies.
Beginning November 1, 2019 one of the largest publishers, Macmillan, is instituting an eight-week embargo against all public libraries on all new ebook titles. This means that when a new book is released, public libraries will be limited to only one e-book copy and will not be allowed to purchase additional digital versions to meet the demand of their communities until the eight-week time limit expires. Our community members, used to being able to place holds on new items and check them out on their digital devices, will no longer have readily available new releases of items published under the Macmillan umbrella. Wait times will be long for digital versions of popular authors like Nora Roberts, Phillip Margolin and Tomi Adeyemi.
Access is very important to libraries. Charlotte Mecklenburg Library opposes this new policy. These embargos are hurtful to the reading public and could jeopardize the future of access to e-books in libraries. This change limits access of popular e-books to only those customers able to purchase these titles, bringing the greatest negative impacts to those the Library serves with free access. The Library budget, stressed by competing priorities and the growing needs within our community, will be stretched further as publishers add restrictions and raise prices on digital sales to libraries across the country, resulting in limited offerings and increased wait times for our community members.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library supports industry efforts to combat these changes. To express displeasure for Macmillan’s new e-book policies, please email Macmillan at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also add your name to the growing list of readers who have signed a petition launched by the American Library Association at eBooksForAll.org.
Thank you for lending your voice to support Charlotte Mecklenburg Library as well as public libraries across the country.
To learn more about these changes and the impact to public libraries, please visit:
- Panorama Project - A cross-industry, collaborative research initiative dedicated to using data to measure the impact libraries have on developing readers, driving book discovery, and generating book sales in their local communities and beyond.
- Press Release from American Library Association
- Resource Page from Urban Libraries Council