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OPL joins the fight against publisher’s decision to limit public libraries’ access to eBooks

Oakville Public Library is joining forces with the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, the American Library Association and other public libraries across North America to protest new policy changes brought forward by Macmillan Publishers that would limit public libraries’ access to eBooks.

What do these policy changes include?

Beginning November 1, public library systems in North America will only be permitted to purchase one copy of any new eBook release from Macmillan Publishers and will have to wait a minimum of eight weeks before they can purchase any additional copies. Currently, Oakville Public Library purchases between 4-8 copies of bestselling eBooks.

Why should we be concerned?

These restrictions also raise questions about equal access for library customers. Libraries are increasingly dependent on e-content to help meet the growing demand for new materials and eBooks are frequently accessed by people who may not be able to use traditional print books or are unable to visit the library in-person.

How will this policy change affect Oakville Public Library customers?

Beginning on November 1, customers may experience longer wait times for popular eBooks and audiobooks that are published by Macmillan Publishers.

How much does it cost the library to purchase eBooks?

It is significantly more expensive for libraries to purchase an eBook than it is to purchase a physical book. For example, a hardcover copy of Jeffrey Archer’s “Nothing Ventured” currently retails for $20.21 CAD at Indigo, yet the eBook version costs OPL $60.00 CAD from Macmillan Publishers. This particular eBook may only be checked out 52 times or for two years after purchase, whichever comes first, before a new copy must be purchased by the library.

What is driving these policy changes?

Publishers are blaming public libraries for plateauing eBook sales. However, a 2018 BookNet Canada study demonstrates that those who borrow books from public libraries also buy them. In the study, book buyers who had not visited a library in the past month purchased an average of 2.6 books a month, whereas book buyers who had visited a library at least once in the past month has purchased an average of 3.0 books per month.

How can I learn more?

Learn more by visiting econtentforlibraries.org.

How can I help?