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Press ReleaseNew eBook limit could force readers to wait for new releases

On July 25, Macmillan Publishing announced it would become the only major (Big 5) publisher to limit eBook lending for U.S. libraries. This means when a new book is released, Macmillan will allow library systems to purchase only one copy during an eight-week window.

This new licensing model is scheduled to begin November 1, 2019.

Currently, Digital Johnson County, a partnership between the Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty public libraries, purchase multiple copies of popular eBooks so that more than one person can read it at the same time. For example, we have 22 copies of the eBook version of Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” More than 400 area library users have checked out the eBook and 48 people are still waiting. Random House was the parent company who published “Becoming.” If that company had been Macmillan, the library would only be able to buy 1 copy for all 3 libraries.

“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,” American Library Association (ALA) President Wanda Brown said. “Macmillan’s new policy is unacceptable.”

Public Library Association (PLA) President Ramiro Salazar echoed her stand, stating, “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. 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. A core tenet of the public library mission is to provide free and equal access to information. Macmillan’s new model threatens this mission.

The Iowa City Public Library joins the ALA in denouncing this measure and calling for Macmillan Publishing to cancel the embargo and restore full access to its complete eBook catalog upon release to the public.

Furthermore, ICPL affirms the principles that:

• All published works must be available for libraries to purchase and lend to library users.
• Access to and 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.

Consider joining ICPL and signing the American Library Association’s petition for #eBooksforAll at