KCLS boycotts Macmillan Publishers’ eBook embargo

  • Monday, October 21, 2019 3:37pm
  • News

The King County Library System (KCLS) will no longer purchase newly-released eBooks from Macmillan Publishers, one of five major publishers in the U.S., effective Nov. 1.

This decision comes after months of discussion and advocacy to urge Macmillan to reconsider instituting a new library eBook embargo, set to go into effect on November 1. Under Macmillan’s new lending model, public libraries of any size will only be allowed to purchase one copy of a newly-released eBook for the first eight weeks after publication.

As a large library system, KCLS maintains a “Holds to Copy” ratio of 5-to-1 to minimize wait times for popular titles. This means that for every five holds on a title, KCLS purchases one copy to ensure a maximum wait time of only three months. If KCLS is limited to one digital copy of each new title, and then had to wait eight weeks before being able to purchase more, patrons could conceivably wait years rather than months for their eBook.

“Digital equity and access to information is at stake,” states KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “KCLS’ central mission is to provide free and equal access to information, and libraries must be able to perform this essential role in the digital realm as well. We do not want other publishers to follow the example of Macmillan and embargo books. To do so profoundly changes the public library.”

For KCLS, a library system with 50 libraries, serving more than one million residents, the new embargo hits King County patrons particularly hard. KCLS has been the top digital-circulating library in the U.S. for the last five years and third worldwide. According to Rakuten OverDrive, KCLS patrons downloaded nearly five million eBooks and audiobooks last year.

To continue to ensure reasonable wait times for newly-released electronic titles, KCLS will divert its eBook funds to publishers who are willing to sell to libraries without a purchasing embargo. They will, however, continue to purchase Macmillan titles that are not embargoed, including print materials and older copies of best-selling eBooks.

The American Library Association (ALA) has also denounced Macmillan’s decision and asks that the public express their concerns to press.inquiries@macmillan.com, or ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office at alawash@alawash.org.

More in News

Auburn Veterans Parade announces award winners

The city of Auburn has announced the winners of its 54th annual… Continue reading

City sets Nov. 18 public hearing on property tax levy, revenue sources

The city of Auburn estimates the 2020 property tax levy will be… Continue reading

Civil rights activist Mendez to speak in Kent

Nov. 14 at Green River College Kent Campus

At the breakfast are, from left: Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier; Seattle Major Jenny Durkan; Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus; King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer; Federal Way Public Schools Superintendent Tammy Campbell; Algona Mayor Dave Hill; former Federal Way Mayor Mike Park; and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell. COURTESY PHOTO
Durkan emphasizes regional collaboration to South King County leaders

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan joined King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer’s November… Continue reading

Construction work to affect intersection of R Street SE and 28th Street SE | UPDATES

On Thursday, Nov. 14, and Friday, Nov. 15, construction work by Rodarte… Continue reading

Coulterberry and jockey Amadeo Perez charge to victory in the $50,000 Muckleshoot Tribal Classic in Septemver at Emerald Downs. COURTESY TRACK PHOTO
Emerald Downs announces 2020 race dates; 63-day meet opens April 18

Emerald Downs Racetrack and Casino has announced a 63-day live racing season… Continue reading

MultiCare Auburn Medical Center notifying patients of tuberculosis exposure

Advisory follows confirmation that an employee at the hospital tested positive for the disease

Political activist Tim Eyman campaigns for Initiative 976 on Nov. 5 in downtown Bellevue. The initiative promised $30 car tabs while functionally eliminating the ability of agencies like Sound Transit to raise taxes for its projects. Photo by Aaron Kunkler
Election analysis: I-976 vote casts South King County against Seattle, Eastside

Preliminary precinct counts show support for the initiative split by region.

Honoring those who served and sacrificed

Mission continues to recognize and help veterans

Most Read