Local library urges community to petition for continued access to eBooks

Coffee County Manchester Public Library has asked the community to participate in an American Library Association and Public Library Association petition  in response to a upcoming change at one of the major publishers.

Coffee County Manchester Library Pauline Vaughn said that “this is an important issue for patrons who use or plan to use the R.E.A.D.S. program.  Access to ebook materials is basically being censored by publishers who only allow a certain small number of checkouts before you must buy another copy.”

According to the ALA petition at eBooksForAll.org, the publisher, MacMillan, new price model, starting Nov. 1,  allows a library to “purchase one copy upon release of a new title in e-book format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to the library. The additional copies will then be available for two years of access.”

Vaughn said that for libraries this will mean additional expense.

“From a library's position it is hard to maintain an eReader collection if you are continually having to purchase the same title over and over again, especially if said title is expensive,” she said.

“In book form we buy it once and we have that material for long periods of time and certainly can support the cost of buying it. But, with ebooks you pay for the book and are only allowed 26 checkouts before having to purchase it again (for just 26 checkouts). If the materials are popular you could be buying it in perpetuity, never really owning it.”

“It really comes down to funding,” Vaughn said, “how best do we spend taxpayers’ money to get a ROI that benefits the community? And the answer to that question will be different in every community.

According to the ALA, Macmillan is the only major publisher to propose such an embargo.

 “ALA’s goal is to send a clear message to Macmillan’s CEO John Sargent: e-book access should be neither denied nor delayed,” said ALA Executive Director Mary Ghikas in a press release. “Our members are telling us their patrons want an easy way to join this movement and demand e-book access for all. We heard them, and today’s launch is the beginning of a public advocacy campaign in support of that. Libraries have millions of allies out there, and we’re inviting them to take action.”

A request for comment from Macmillian was not answered by press time.

The full text of the petition as found on eBooksForAll.org.