Waiting Longer than Usual for your Ebooks? Here’s Why

October 18, 2019 | Wendy B.

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Multinational publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster) have recently made it much harder for public libraries to buy and lend ebooks.

Publishers set limits on how long we can keep copies of ebooks. Now we have to re-purchase them every two years and pay a very high price – generally four to six times higher than the print price. This means we will not be able to buy as many copies of ebooks​, and you will have to wait longer.

Libraries strongly oppose these practices. It’s our job to offer you equitable access to content in the format you want. These publishers are jeopardizing our ability to do so.

While physical books are still popular, readers are borrowing more and more ebooks. We will not be able to keep up with demand if multinational publishers don’t change their business practices. The digital divide will widen because this will impact the people who rely on us the most – including people with limited incomes and people with disabilities.

In addition, Macmillan has just introduced a troubling new policy – an embargo. Effective Friday, November 1, 2019, public libraries will only be able to buy one copy of any new Macmillan ebook, and will have to wait eight weeks before we can buy additional copies. This means you’ll have to wait much longer for new ebooks​, like Conversations with RBG by Jeffrey Rosen and The Russian Job by Douglas Smith, and by authors you love including Louise Penny and Jonathan Franzen.

In response, the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, Urban Libraries Council, American Library Association, public library leaders and other key stakeholders have joined together in opposition to this policy that will only make a bad situation worse.


Note: this blog post has been edited; two book titles have been changed, and an expired petition has been removed.