VLA Calls for Macmillan to Reverse Library eBook Embargo

Dear Mr. John Sargent,

The Vermont Library Association Calls for Macmillan to Reverse Library eBook Embargo

On July 25, Macmillan Publishers announced it would become the only major (Big 5) publisher
to limit eBook lending for U.S. libraries. Under its new licensing model, scheduled to begin November 1, 2019, a library may purchase one copy upon release of a new title in eBook format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to libraries.

As American Library Association (ALA) President Wanda Brown asserted that same day, “Macmillan Publishers’ new model for library eBook lending will make it difficult for libraries to fulfill our central mission: ensuring access to information for all. Macmillan’s new policy is unacceptable.”

And Public Library Association (PLA) President Ramiro Salazar stated, “Access to digital content in libraries is more than a financial issue: it is an equity issue. We encourage Macmillan Publishers to reverse course before libraries and the people they serve are harmed.” Millions of people now use digital content as their preferred or only access to books, music, and movies. As a rural state, many Vermonters rely on digital content from their libraries. Digital content is portable, accessible to people with print disabilities, available anywhere 24/7, and brokered by libraries to provide diverse options to our diverse communities. Libraries not only pay for books; they market them. Lost marketing means lost publicity and sales for publishers and authors.

The Vermont Library Association joins the ALA in denouncing this measure and calling for Macmillan Publishers to cancel the embargo and restore full access to its complete eBook catalog upon release to the public.

  • Furthermore, the Vermont Library Association affirms the principles that:
  • All published works must be available for libraries to purchase and lend to library users.
  • Access to use of eBooks must equitably balance the rights and privileges of readers, authors and publishers.
  • Digital content must be accessible to all people, regardless of physical or reading disability.
  • Library patrons must be able to access digital content on the device of their choosing.
  • Reading records must remain private in the digital age.