Effective immediately, the Anderson County Library System will stop purchasing print books, eBooks, downloadable audiobooks and books on CD for circulation from Macmillan Publishers and its imprints. The Anderson County Library System’s boycott is part of a national movement to protest Macmillan’s recent business practices towards libraries. Books and other items that are already part of the Library’s collections will not be affected.
On November 1, Macmillan implemented an embargo on library eBook purchases that prevents any library from purchasing more than one copy of a newly published eBook from Macmillan or any of its imprints for eight weeks after the publication date. For a popular release, the Anderson County Library System typically purchases up to six copies to meet demand. You can read more about eBooks and the library from a previous blog post here.
“The Library’s mission is to provide free and equitable access to all our patrons, and Macmillan’s embargo is antithetical to that mission. We have to send a clear message on that,” says Library Director Faith Line.
Last fiscal year, the Anderson County Library System circulated over 126,000 eBooks and audiobooks in Overdrive alone, the Library’s main digital platform. It was a 20 percent increase from the previous year.
eBooks aren’t just about convenience, though; they’re about accessibility. “eBooks allow patrons to enlarge the text, heighten the contrast, or even change to a font that is helpful for readers with dyslexia,” says Heather Bistyga, collection development manager. “And patrons who are unable to travel to the library can select their own books and download them in the comfort of home.”
The Anderson County Library System joins other libraries in South Carolina and nationwide in opposing the embargo and Macmillan. The American Library Association launched a national campaign at eBooksForAll.org. As of Nov. 21, over 209,000 people had signed a petition demanding that eBook access for libraries not be denied or delayed.
Libraries already face limitations on eBook and digital audiobook purchases, since many Amazon eBooks and Audible exclusives are unavailable for libraries to purchase and make available to their patrons. Libraries also pay up to five times the retail price for downloadable books, many of which expire after a certain time period or number of checkouts.
Libraries are major purchasers of books as well as a source of free marketing for books and authors. Like other libraries participating in this boycott, the Anderson County Library hopes to make Macmillan reconsider their embargo, remember the key roles that libraries play in the book and reading world, and prevent other publishing companies from following suit.
“This boycott isn’t a decision we go into lightly, but Macmillan is setting a dangerous precedent that could influence other publishers in the future,” says Line. “We hope our patrons will understand why we feel the need to take a stand to ensure free and equitable access.”
We understand that this may be a source of inconvenience for our patrons and ask for understanding at this time.
What You Can Do:
- Please keep using our Digital Library. We can’t demonstrate the value and need for access without your support in this way.
- Let Macmillan know what you think. You can send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you do check out the book from one of our libraries or otherwise get a copy of the book, please consider cancelling your hold in Overdrive or Libby. That way we can get the eBook faster to others who are waiting.
- Read more about eBooks and libraries. Libraries are fighting for fair and equal access to books for everyone, especially through the #eBooksForAll campaign.