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Library e-Book Changes are Coming November 1

//Library e-Book Changes are Coming November 1

Library e-Book Changes are Coming November 1

Starting November 1, 2019, the publisher Macmillan will change their e-book licensing terms with libraries. This happens from time to time. What’s different about this particular change is that it will hurt SCLSNJ and our patrons.

When a new e-book is released, a public library will only be allowed to buy a single copy during the first eight weeks the book is out. [1] After eight weeks, the library will be allowed to purchase as many additional copies as they’d like, but at a higher price. [2] These new e-book terms are designed to drive consumer demand on Macmillan titles by inflating library hold queues. Their assumption is that patrons who don’t want to wait for the single copy in the first eight weeks will simply purchase their own copies. SCLSNJ believes that accepting these terms signals that we are willing to accept whatever pricing and licensing model is offered, regardless of long term sustainability or fiscal responsibility. We have chosen not to play by these rules.

  • Starting on November 1, 2019, SCLSNJ will no longer purchase e-book editions of new Macmillan or Macmillan imprint titles.
    New titles by some authors will only be available in hard copy. Macmillan and its imprints publish some of our most popular authors for adults, children and teens, including Liane Moriarty, Louise Penny, J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts, Lisa Scottoline and Rainbow Rowell. We will be increasing the number of print copies we buy for popular Macmillan authors to keep the hold queues moving as quickly as we can.
  • Some titles in our e-book collection will disappear. As our licensing for individual e-books expire, we may not renew that licensing for Macmillan titles. [3]
  • At present, other publishers have not followed suit, and we will continue to buy e-book copies of their titles as usual. Similarly, we will continue to buy e-audiobooks – this licensing change only applies to e-books.

What can you do?

  • Learn more about ebooks and public libraries by visiting
  • Add your name to the public petition at
  • Continue to support SCLSNJ by checking out our books.
  • Publishers like Macmillan believe that library users represent lost sales. We know that libraries are one of the publishing industry’s best (free) promotional tools, and we want them to understand we are not the enemy. If you find a new author you love, consider supporting them by purchasing their work for yourself, or share your love by buying copies as gifts.
  • Tell Macmillan how you feel about this new policy. You can tweet @MacmillanUSA with the hashtag #eBooksForAll, or send a letter to John Sargent, Chief Executive Officer Macmillan Publishing, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.

More details for people who like footnotes…

[1] Use of library e-books is like use of other library books: one copy, one user. It doesn’t matter that it’s digital and that multiple people could technically be accessing the same content at the same time. SCLSNJ is only allowed to make the e-books in our collection available to one user at a time. That means that we have buy multiple copies of titles in high demand, just like we do for print books.

[2] Library e-book pricing varies widely. For most bestsellers, you can go to their favorite site and purchase an e-book copy for yourself for less than $15. At the time of this post, for instance, “Where the Crawdads Sing” is available for $14.99 at Amazon, Apple, Google and other retailers. The same e-book costs SCLSNJ $55. (For comparison, with the volume discount we get from our vendors, we can get a print copy of Where the Crawdads Sing for $14.22.)

[3] Licensing terms vary widely. For some publishers, e-books are like regular books: once we buy it, it’s ours until we decide it’s no longer needed. For other publishers, licensing expires based on a certain time period. (“Where the Crawdads Sing” is a 24 month license, which means that if we want to use it after the two-year mark, we have to repurchase it.) Still other publishers allow a certain number of checkouts before licensing expires. Twenty-six checkouts is a common limit, after which we have to repurchase if we want to continue to offer the title.

For more information, visit
Questions or concerns? Let us know.

By |2019-10-09T15:44:17-04:00October 9th, 2019|SCLSNJ News|
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