Libraries fight publisher’s e-book policy changes

WARREN — The Warren Trumbull Library System board approved a resolution asking publishers to reconsider announced policy changes for the distribution of e-books and e-audio books to libraries.

The changes, the board maintains, could potentially create increased financial burdens for libraries.

The resolution is one of a number approved by library boards of trustees across Ohio and across the nation concerned about limiting the number of new electronic books available.

Warren-Trumbull’s library board specifically targeted Blackstone Audio, Hachette, Macmillan and Simon and Schuster in its resolution this week. It requests these publishers meet with libraries, library consortia, library associations, authors and other stakeholders for the purpose of creating new policies that ensure equitable access for all Ohio citizens.

Jim Wilkins, executive director of the Warren Trumbull library, said the library board will monitor the progress of the American Library Association’s effort to reverse the decision to limit access to new e-books and e-audiobooks.

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County Board of Trustees approved a similar resolution denouncing Macmillan’s new e-book policy in September.

Macmillan, beginning on Nov. 1, only will allow libraries to have access to one e-book and e-audiobook for the first eight weeks after a new book is released.

Efforts to reach officials with Macmillan Publishing were not successful.

Macmillan’s new digital content terms for libraries will allow libraries to purchase a single perpetual-access e-book copy of each new Macmillan title for the first eight weeks after a book’s release. After eight weeks, libraries can then license access additional copies for about $60 per copy for a term of two years or 52 lends, whichever comes first.

The new e-book and e-audiobook policies represent a significant financial burden impacting taxpayer supported public libraries’ overall operations and services, with The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County spending more than $450,000 in 2018 on e-books and e-audiobooks, a 201 percent spending increase compared to 2014, according to Youngstown’s library’s resolution.

In the meantime, Wilkins said the American Library Association has set up a website, https://ebooks forall.org, where those interested may voice their opposition.

Wilkins said the Ohio Library Council has been gathering all of the resolutions that have approved over the last month.

Approximately 15 Ohio library systems have approved resolutions supporting the ALA’s effort to develop grassroot support opposing efforts to limit the availability of new e-books and e-audiobooks during the first weeks of release, according to Angie Jacobson, a spokeswoman with the Ohio Library Council.

Ohio library systems that have approved resolutions include Columbus, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Warren and others.


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