The Okanagan Regional Library has joined in a battle against Macmillan Publishers, which is limiting how many library users can access its new e-book releases.
As of Friday, Nov. 1, the big-five publisher has restricted all libraries to purchasing only one copy of a new e-book title for the first eight weeks after a book is released.
After those eight weeks, additional copies will then be accessible for two years.
Libraries from across the U.S. and Canada have responded with a petition to stop the embargo, which was announced by Macmillan Publishers in July.
“Because of this change … ORL will be allowed only one copy of an e-book to serve our population of 400,000 people for the first two months,” said Don Nettleton, chief executive officer of the Okanagan Regional Library.
“This change will create a barrier for customers who cannot afford to purchase digital content, and for those who rely on their public library for accessing digital information,”
Nettleton said people with visual or learning disabilities are the ones who will be most affected, as they often rely on eBooks to easily change font sizes.
He added that libraries already pay higher prices for e-books compared to books in print, and that the embargo will result in longer wait times for e-books.
“We will continue to stand up for your right to access information in all forms, including newly released e-books,” said Nettleton.
The petition was created by the American Library Association (ALA), which launched a public action campaign on Sept. 11 opposing what the association calls “arbitrary restrictions on library e-book lending.”
“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 on Sept. 11.
The association has been rallying public support on social media with the hashtag #eBooksforAll.
“This policy hurts the reading public at a time when we should be encouraging more people to read, not fewer… Libraries are allies, not adversaries, to our readers, authors, publishers & booksellers.” —@michaelambert @SFPublicLibrary #eBooksForAll https://t.co/7bUxYoup4S
— American Library Association (@ALALibrary) October 30, 2019
The petition has garnered more than 178,000 signatures so far. To sign the petition, visit ebooksforall.org.