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eBooks: Inside the Industry

Everything you ever wanted to know about eBooks but were afraid to ask.

Macmillan sales to libraries

UPDATE: On Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, Macmillan announced they were returning to the library eBook pricing model that was in effect on October 31st, 2019. They have ended the embargo. The library wants to thank our customers for supporting our decision. We will resume including Macmillan titles in our digital purchasing decisions.

Fairfax County Public Library has joined libraries across the U.S. and Canada in refusing to purchase eBooks and eAudiobooks (eMaterials) from Macmillan Publishers and its imprints.

On November 1, 2019, Macmillan began limiting libraries to the purchase of a single, electronic copy of a title for the first sixty days after publication, regardless of the number of people the library system serves or the number of branches. After this 60-day embargo libraries can purchase additional copies at inflated prices reserved for libraries. These copies expire after two years, at which point libraries must either re-purchase them at full price or lose access to those copies. By allowing only one copy to be purchased in the first two months, Macmillan sends a clear signal that it does not value the purchasing power of libraries and does not recognize the valuable support that libraries provide to publishers and authors by exposing readers to new authors and interests.

Fairfax County Public Library will continue to purchase Macmillan titles in print and CD audiobook format, as sales and lending practices in those formats are protected by federal law. FCPL will continue to maximize its eMaterial budget; funds previously allocated to Macmillan eMaterials will be redirected to publishers who are willing to work collaboratively with public libraries.

See a full list of current Macmillan authors.

Like-Minded Libraries

Fairfax County Public Library is not alone in its decision. Below is a selected list of libraries that are choosing not to buy Macmillan's eMaterials. As of March, there are libraries in 28 states, serving over 15% of the US population, that are standing up to the embargo.

  1. Alexandria Public Library (VA)
  2. Arkansas Digital Library Consortium (AR)
  3. Bergen County Cooperative Library System (NJ)
  4. Berks County Library System (PA)
  5. Blue Ridge Download Consortium (VA)
  6. Bucks County Free Library (PA)
  7. Cedar Rapids Public Library (IA)
  8. Charleston County Public Library (SC)
  9. Chesapeake Public Library (VA)
  10. Chesterfield County Public Library (VA)
  11. Columbus Metropolitan Library (OH)
  12. Connecticut State Library (CT)
  13. Cranston Public Library (RI)
  14. Des Moines Public Library (IA)
  15. eLibraryNJ (NJ)
  16. Estes Valley Library (CO)
  17. First Regional Library (MS)
  18. Handley Regional Library (VA)
  19. Harris County Public Library* (TX)
  20. Horry County Public Library (SC)
  21. James L. Hamner Public Library (Amelia County VA)
  22. Kansas State Library (KS)
  23. Kentucky Libraries Unbound (KY)
  24. King County Library System (WA)
  25. Madison Public Library* (WI)
  26. Massanutten Regional Library (VA)
  27. Mid-Continent Public Library* (MO)
  28. Milwaukee Public Library* (WI)
  29. Monroe County Library System (NY)
  30. Multnomah County Library (OR)
  31. Nashville Public Library (TN)
  32. New Orleans Public Library (LA)
  33. Newport News Public Library (VA)
  34. North Dakota Digital Consortium (ND)
  35. North Dakota State Library (ND)
  36. Omaha Public Library (NE)
  37. Pamunkey Regional Library (VA)
  38. The Public Library of Brookline (MA)
  39. Richmond Public Library (VA)
  40. Roanoke County Public Library (VA)
  41. Sacramento Public Library (CA)
  42. San Antonio Public Library (TX)
  43. San Diego County Library (CA)
  44. San Jose Public Library (CA)
  45. Seattle Public Library* (WA)
  46. Sonoma County Library* (CA)
  47. Somerset County Library System (NJ)
  48. Timberland Regional Library (WA)
  49. Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library (KS)
  50. Utah's Online Library (UT)
  51. Virginia Beach Public Library (VA)
  52. Washington Digital Library Consortium (WA)
  53. Wisconsin Public Library Consortium* (WI)
  54. WVREADS Consortium (WV)
  55. Yolo County Library (CA)
  56. York County Library (SC)

*exception for eAudio or end of embargo period
For a more complete list, see also the work from Whatcom County Library System.


This page will be updated with more information in the coming weeks.

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