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The Download on Digital Content — Publishers Limit Library Access

Clearview Library District Database Spotlight

person with ereader

With the dawn of the internet and the age of the device, rich media content — and all of the library’s resources — are more accessible now than ever. 

Through apps, like Flipster, Hoopla, OverDrive, and more, we offer patrons music, e-books, audiobooks, TV shows, and movies.

“Digital items are quite popular, because our digital platforms are always open, there’s always something to see or read, and there are never any late fees — when an item is due, it just expires with no action necessary from our borrowers,” said IT & Technical Services Manager Bud Hunt. “Every day, we help a few more of our patrons access our online collections from their tablets and phones.” 

Our virtual checkouts and renewals hit nearly 90,000 in 2018, a 28 percent growth from 2017, and we expect an increase again this year. 

“Last year, music streaming via Freegal was the most popular digital service, followed by the app Hoopla,” said Hunt. “Hoopla offers movies, e-books, and audiobooks, with audiobooks being the most popular for Clearview Library users in 2018.”

Unfortunately, publishers are limiting libraries’ access to digital content. 

Starting November 1, Macmillan Publishers will only allow libraries to purchase one digital copy of new releases for the first eight weeks. Because libraries pool their resources and form consortiums to further their purchasing power — like our Across Colorado Digital Consortium we utilize with OverDrive — the limitation will hit us particularly hard.  

“Licensing for e-books continues to get more and more complex,” said Hunt. “Unlike print books, many e-material purchases are more like rentals, for a set period of time, rather than the purchase of a permanent item.” 

The new release embargoes are in addition to higher prices and limited licensing agreements. Digital formats cost libraries more than retail, in upfront costs and in the renewal of an item’s license over time. Macmillan and other publishers have policies in place that, in many instances, charge per checkout, or require libraries to re-purchase a digital title after two years or a certain number of checkouts.

This is exclusive to libraries and does not extend to retail. For example, a copy of Where the Crawdads Sing cost our library $55 for a 24-month e-book license. The same title and format retails on Amazon for $14.99 for an outright, unlimited purchase.

The impact on our community? Limited access and longer wait times for new titles, as well as significant cost increases for our library.

“It’s clear from our Strategic Plan survey that our community wants more digital options,” Hunt said. “Publishers are limiting our ability to deliver.”


Want to voice your concerns on these issues?

Sign the American Library Association petition regarding Macmillan’s upcoming new-release embargo.

Or, contact major publishers:
Macmillan
Email
Phone: 646-307-5151
Twitter: @MacmillanUSA

Macmillan Publishers
Attn: Mr. John Sargent, CEO
120 Broadway Street
New York, NY 10271

Penguin Group USA
Email
Phone: 201-933-9292
Twitter: @penguinusa

Penguin Group USA
Attn: Ms. Madeline McIntosh, CEO
405 Murray Hill Pkwy.
East Rutherford, NJ 07073

HarperCollins Publishers
Email: (Erin Crum, Vice President Corporate Communications)
Phone: 1-800-242-7737
Twitter: @HarperCollins

HarperCollins Publishers
Attn: Mr. Brian Murray, CEO
195 Broadway
New York, NY 10007

Simon & Schuster
Email:Email: (Adam Rothberg, VP and Director of Corporate Communications)
Phone: 212-698-7033 (Corporate Communications)
Twitter: @SimonSchuster

Simon & Schuster
Attn: Ms. Carolyn Reidy, President / CEO
1230 6th Ave.
New York, NY 10020

Hachette Book Group
Phone: 1-800-759-0190
Twitter: @HachetteUS

Hachette Book Group
Attn: Mr. Michael Pietsch, CEO
1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10104