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DML Magazine Summer 2020
Imagination Library

A Message from Tim Kambitsch, Executive Director, Dayton Metro Library Re: eBooks and eAudiobooks

In August, I shared the news that major book publishers were preparing to limit Library users’ access to eBooks. At that time, I provided a summary of the changes that will go into effect.

Starting November 1, Macmillan Publishers began an embargo of public libraries, refusing to sell multiple copies of newly released eBook titles. This includes other publishers owned by Macmillan, such as Tor, Picador, and St. Martin's Press, among others. This will result in artificially long hold periods.

Thank you to everyone who wrote asking how to help, and to each of you who signed the American Library Association (ALA) petition calling for #eBooksForAll. ALA delivered the petitions, signed by more than 160,000 active library lovers, to the publishers.

Unfortunately, before he even sat down with our national library representatives from ALA, John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan Publishing, sent an open letter to librarians. In it, he re-states his commitment to charge libraries higher prices, limit usage of eBooks, and delay availability.

Mr. Sargent told libraries: "We believe the very rapid increase in the reading of borrowed e-books decreases the perceived economic value of a book. I know that you pay us for these e-books, but to the reader, they are free... In today's digital world there is no... friction in the market."

Perhaps most telling about his statement is that he acknowledges the high price libraries are willing to pay to support authors and publishers and to deliver excellent service to patrons. His complaint is not that we aren't paying a fair price for eBooks; his complaint is that libraries make reading too accessible and convenient for the public! (Some of his misstatements were addressed in a response from ALA.)

Regardless of the reasons why, we are left with the reality that Macmillan Publishers, and the many imprints they represent, have put policies in place to limit your access to eBooks through the library.

Today, I warn you that your wait times for new titles from all Macmillan-represented authors will be unreasonably long. Our partners at OverDrive are working to add language to the website, providing a "wait time warning" if you request one of Macmillan's embargoed titles, and our librarians in Collection Development and Information Technology are working to limit any possible confusion.

I ask for your patience as we work to navigate this difficult situation. We are dedicated to securing access to books for all who want to read, and we are considering how we can adjust our purchasing of physical copies to accommodate increased demand for these embargoed titles.

If you'd like to share your frustration with the policy, you can still visit the ALA website ebooksforall.org to sign the petition and learn more about how to make your voice heard.

Thank you for your support of the Dayton Metro Library.

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