Discussion about the fairness of publisher’s digital pricing and access for libraries have been ongoing for at least a decade.
However, the challenges for libraries intensified rapidly in 2018/2019 as publishers implemented drastic changes to their digital content pricing.
Timeline of Changes to E-content Lending Models for Libraries.
- July 2018 – Tor Books: Tor/Forge or Thomas Doherty, a division of Macmillan Publishers, implements a four-month embargo on availability of new eBook titles for libraries.
- October 2018 — Penguin Random House ceases perpetual eBook licensing for libraries and implements a two-year metered model.
- July 2019 — Hachette Book Group ceases perpetual eBook and eAudiobook licensing for libraries and implements a two-year metered model.
- July 2019 — Blackstone Audio imposes a 90-day embargo on new eAudiobook titles for libraries.
- August 2019 — Simon & Schuster ceases perpetual eAudiobook licensing for libraries and implements a two-year metered model.
- November 2019 (pending) — Macmillan Publishers will implement a two-month embargo on all new eBook titles for libraries.
Which eBooks Are Affected?
All eBook titles published by Macmillan or by any of the publishers that Macmillan owns. These titles will still appear in our catalog in other formats, but will not be available in eBook format.
What will happen to Macmillan eBooks already in the library catalog?
Macmillan eBooks already in our collection will remain. You may continue to place hold requests and check them out as usual. If you have a Macmillan eBook checked out right now, it will not be affected.
Does this purchase suspension include Macmillan books in all formats?
No. This decision only affects Macmillan eBooks. RPL will continue to purchase print versions and not embargoed eBooks from Macmillan titles. We will revisit this decision and expand or contract based on future restrictions imposed by Macmillan.
If I submit a purchase request for a new Macmillan eBook will it be rejected?
Yes. We will not be purchasing any access restricted Macmillan eBooks. Library staff will process and consider purchase suggestions for all other Macmillan formats as usual.
I don’t know much about Macmillan. What books do they publish?
Macmillan is one of the “Big Five” book publishers in the world, along with Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster. They publish a wide variety of fiction, nonfiction and other genres from hundreds of different authors.
Under the Macmillan Publishing Group is Farrar, Straus and Giroux, MCD, Picador, North Point Press, Hill and Wang, Henry Holt and Company, St. Martin’s Press, and Tor/Forge. It also includes their Children’s Publishing Group. Authors under Macmillan Publishing include David McCullough, Nora Roberts and Colson Whitehead.
How long will this suspension last?
We don’t have an end date right now. Should Macmillan cancel its embargo, we will immediately lift suspension.
Why don’t you at least take the single eBook Macmillan is offering?
We believe everyone deserves equal access to books and information. In our view, Macmillan’s policy means that only those who can and will pay for access deserve it. That’s why we believe we have to take this action.
Additionally, your chances of getting access to a single copy in the first two months are slim at best. We have hundreds of patrons who place holds on the most popular eBooks. Everyone can hold or check out an eBook for up to 14 days. By the time you get to the top of a queue odds are, it will have been several months already.
We understand that this is frustrating. We know this decision will not please everyone, but we firmly believe that this suspension is the best way we can support our eBook readers and ensure that libraries have equal access to digital materials.