Macmillan eBooks Boycott

Effective immediately, the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (MVLC) and its 36 member libraries will stop purchasing newly released eBooks published by Macmillan Publishers and its imprints.

Macmillan enacted an embargo in November 2019, prohibiting public libraries from purchasing more than one eBook copy of all new titles for 8 weeks after their release.  This means that public libraries are not allowed to buy eBooks from Macmillan even though copies are available for individuals to purchase through regular retail sites. For MVLC, this means only one eBook copy would be available to library users across all its 36 communities. MVLC will not be able to meet user demand with such a restrictive policy.

MVLC joins the American Library Association, the Massachusetts Library Association, and many other libraries across the country in objecting to these changes. In a recent report on WGBH radio, Massachusetts Library Association President, Esme Green, said, “The library has been helping people for hundreds of years. That's what we do. And so, if you take that away, you're actually hurting your communities. It's not good for our social fabric."

Public libraries have an ethical obligation to ensure that library patrons have equitable access to a broad range of material.  “When a publisher puts up barriers to access, we must seek other publishers whose materials are not similarly restricted,” says Becky Herrmann, MVLC President. “In addition, as good fiscal stewards for our libraries, we feel it is fiscally irresponsible to continue to expend tax dollars on eBooks with a publisher that has intentionally put libraries at a disadvantage.”

This boycott does not apply to Macmillan products in other formats, such as print books, audio CDs, and digital audiobooks, which are not impacted by Macmillan’s embargo.  Previously published Macmillan eContent already in the digital collection will not be affected.  

What are Macmillan’s restrictions?
Macmillan Publishers is prohibiting libraries from purchasing more than one copy of their eBooks for 8 weeks after the titles become available to the public. They hope that library patrons will purchase the titles privately rather than waiting approximately 2 months and then borrowing from the library. For the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium, this means only one eBook copy would be available to library users across all of its 36 communities. We will not be able to meet user demand with such a restrictive policy.

Why is MVLC boycotting Macmillan?
Our goal with the boycott is to communicate with Macmillan and other publishers that embargoes are not acceptable. Publishers should not expect to do “business as usual” with libraries at the same time that they place restrictions on libraries. Many publishers offer us wonderful books without placing restrictions that hurt library patrons.

Additionally, Macmillan is one of several large publishers who have introduced new restrictions on libraries in the last 15 months. We see a pattern and believe that to protect library patrons from future restrictions, we need to make it clear to publishers that we are paying attention and actively advocating for the best services that publishers can provide. If we do not, we foresee more restrictions and higher costs. Since library budgets are unlikely to keep pace with costs that rise in this way, we will be forced to purchase fewer items. In other words, we believe that the short-term restriction of the boycott on one publisher will help avoid longer-term restrictions on our whole collection.

What are the details of MVLC’s boycott?
MVLC has chosen to boycott all Macmillan eBooks that have been released since the embargo was implemented, on January 8, 2020. We will revisit this policy after six months unless Macmillan ends its embargo against library purchases sooner.
This boycott does not apply to Macmillan products in other formats, such as print books, audio CDs, and digital audiobooks, which are not impacted by Macmillan’s embargo. Previously published Macmillan eContent already in the digital collection also will not be affected.
 
Will it help for me to contact Macmillan with my feedback?
We very much appreciate it when patrons take the time to show support for their library and advocate on its behalf!  If you would like to contact Macmillan directly, you can email them at elending.feedback@macmillan.com, or consider signing the “eBooks for All” petition found here: https://ebooksforall.org/
 
What are the imprints that Macmillan publishes?
Macmillan’s imprints include Farrar, Straus & Giroux, First Second, Henry Holt, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Picador, St. Martin’s Press, Tor/Forge, and Tor Children’s.  To see a full list, please see the Macmillan website.

For more information, contact the library or visit the American Library Association’s
#eBooksForAll FAQ at
https://ebooksforall.org/index.php/faq/