If you’ve followed me for long, you know that getting eBooks from the library is one of my favorite things in life. I am pretty strict when it comes to allowing myself to buy anything that’s not a necessity and even though books give me life, I only buy a couple a year – usually when I go to an author event so I can get it signed. Looking at my 2018 stats, out of the 150 books I read, about 32% were eBooks from the library. Only about 3% were ones I purchased. The rest came from a mix of publishers, NetGalley, gifts, borrows from friends, or a couple months worth of Kindle Unlimited subscriptions.
Starting in November, though, eBooks from the library could become a lot harder to get. Macmillan Publishers are changing their eContent policies and other publishers are taking notice. Starting November 1st, libraries can only buy 1 copy of a Macmillan eBook and there will be an 8 week embargo before they can purchase more. After those 8 weeks, they will be able to lease more copies at $60/book. That lease will be for two years. This could mean that soon books more than two years old won’t be available as an eBook because your library decides to prioritize more current, in demand titles. In the immediate future it will definitely mean much longer wait times.
Macmillan is doing this because they say libraries are hurting their bottom line. They believe that a longer wait time will mean that people will go buy the book instead. That’s probably true for some people, but there are a lot of people like me out there that can’t afford that. Since I’m so strict with the money I spend on books I almost exclusively only buy books I’ve already read before and know that I love. Not having access from the library means that I probably won’t ever read that book. I personally think this new policy will just drive up piracy instead, not sales.
The American Library Association has started a petition to ask Macmillan to reconsider this new policy. You can sign it here.