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October 29, 2019

Access Denied: E-book Embargo Unfair to Library Readers

America’s libraries are committed to promoting literacy and a love of reading with diverse collections, programs, and services for all ages. In an increasingly digital world, libraries are investing more in e-book and downloadable media. Millions of people discover and explore new and favorite authors through both digital and print collections.

But now, one publisher has decided to limit readers’ access to new e-book titles through their libraries. Beginning November 1, Macmillan Publishers will restrict public libraries – regardless of size or population served – to the purchase of only a single copy of a new e-book title following its release, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo. This means much longer wait times for e-books from popular authors, such as Lisa Scottoline, Louise Penny, Nora Roberts, and many more.

Macmillan’s new model for e-book lending will make it difficult for libraries to fulfill their central mission of ensuring access for all.

On September 26, Akron-Summit County Public Library’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution asking Macmillan to reconsider their new e-book policy.

“Libraries bring together authors, publishers, teachers, and readers to boost knowledge, creativity, literacy, ideas, and imagination,” said ASCPL Executive Director Pamela Hickson-Stevenson. “Macmillan’s new model for e-book lending puts your access to e-books at risk.”

Digital content is fast becoming the preferred - or only - access to books for many readers. Just last year, Ohioans downloaded more than 22 million e-books and eAudiobooks from public libraries across the state. A single copy of a new title in e-book format for two months is not sufficient nor is it acceptable. In some instances, this embargo will force readers to wait a year or more to borrow an e-book.

Stopping Macmillian’s embargo will benefit many stakeholders, including:

  • Library patrons, especially those with visual and other disabilities, who rely on e-books for adjustable text size and spacing, and who particularly benefit from lightweight, easier-to-hold e-readers.
  • Authors, especially new authors, who depend on libraries to provide exposure for their creative works and opportunity for readers to discover them.
  • Publishers, who rely on a constant supply of readers and demand for their products, which libraries provide at no charge to the publisher.

Readers are invited to join Akron-Summit County Public Library in urging Macmillan to reverse their new policy by joining the #ebooksForAll campaign. Visit to sign a petition to let Macmillan know you want access to information and content for readers here in Summit County.


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