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Macmillan puts embargo on new release ebooks to libraries

In the US, Macmillan has announced a two month embargo on all its imprints’ library ebooks effective 1 November, reports Publishers Weekly.

The move comes after a year-long trial where its Tor imprint’s new-release ebook titles weren’t available to libraries for the first four months after publication.

Under the publisher’s new digital terms, each library system can publish a single perpetual access ebook copy of each Macmillan release during the first eight weeks of publication for US$30. After eight weeks, libraries can buy additional copies at full price (usually $60). Each ebook is metered for two year or 52 lends, whichever comes first, on a one copy per user model.

Macmillan didn’t make any changes to its digital audiobook lending terms.

In a memo to authors, illustrators and agents, Macmillan CEO John Sargent said: ‘It seems that given a choice between a purchase of an ebook for $12.99 or a frictionless lend for free, the American ebook reader is starting to lean heavily toward free’.

According to Sargent, the increase in library ebook reading is being driven by a number of factors, including ‘seamless’ delivery of ebooks to reading devices and apps, marketing by ‘various parties’ to turn purchasers into borrowers, and apps that support lending across libraries regardless of residence.

‘Our new terms are designed to protect the value of your books during their first format publication,’ said Sargent. ‘But they also ensure that the mission of libraries is supported.’

In a statement, the American Library Association president Wanda Brown said Macmillan’s new model for library ebook lending will make it difficult for libraries to fulfil its central mission of ensuring access to information for all. ‘Limiting access to new titles for libraries means limiting access for patrons most dependent on libraries,’ said Brown. ‘When a library serving many thousands has only a single copy of a new title in ebook format, it’s the library, not the publisher, that feels the heat. It’s the local library that’s perceived as being unresponsive to community needs.’

The US doesn’t have a Public Lending Rights program that compensates authors or publishers for their works being available in public libraries. In Australia, the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) is campaigning for the government’s Public Lending Rights program to be expanded to include loans of digital books.


Category: Library news International