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New Embargo on e-Books Hurts Libraries Everywhere

From Friends of Chapel Hill Public Library:

Beginning November 1, 2019, Macmillan publishers, one of the country’s “big five” publishers, is imposing an eight-week embargo for libraries on new e-books. This embargo means that for the first eight weeks after an e-book is released, libraries will only be able to purchase a single copy of new Macmillan e-books. This restriction applies whether a library serves a community of a thousand people or a million people.

The impact of this embargo and the other severe restrictions being placed by publishers on public libraries across the country will hurt readers everywhere. Under these new restrictions, the wait for many Macmillan e-book titles is sure to increase. And it could set a precedent for other publishers.

Did you know that e-book costs to libraries are often four times the price of a retail copy? Here’s why: Libraries must license this content and cannot own it. A licensing model increases costs and limits how many times patrons can check out an e-book before the library must re-license. On top of this, Amazon—which owns audio and e-platforms Audible and Kindle—exclusively signs digital and audio rights for authors like Dean Koontz and Mindy Kaling and refuses to license those titles to libraries.

These harsh and unfair restrictions on public libraries are a troubling trend that we believe must be stopped. You can help by joining forces with libraries and Friends groups and readers across the country in opposing Macmillan’s new e-book embargo.

Please sign the petition at to tell Macmillan that access to e-books should not be delayed or denied. Your support will benefit everyone who believes in public libraries.

The Friends of Chapel Hill Public Library is a 600+ member non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to supporting Chapel Hill Public Library. For more information about the Friends, visit


For further reading, Publishers Weekly offers an excellent round-up here, examining the stances of both MacMillan and the American Library Association.

According to Slate, this kind of petition is the first of its kind for the ALA.

The ALA is encouraging the hashtag #eBooksForAll.