Nashville Public Library Protests One Publisher’s Restrictions On E-Book Borrowing | Nashville Public Radio

Nashville Public Library Protests One Publisher’s Restrictions On E-Book Borrowing

Sep 12, 2019

In an increasingly digital world, e-books are a popular offering at libraries. But one major publisher is planning to restrict access to new titles starting in November.

Macmillan, a top five publisher, said recently that it plans to allow libraries access to one copy of a new e-book title for the first eight weeks of its release. 

But that may cripple public libraries’ ability to offer new e-books to patrons, including in Nashville, according to library advocacy groups the American Library Association and the Public Library Association.

Kent Oliver, director of the Nashville Public Library, says the change could result in wait times of more than a year for popular offerings, compared to their current three-month wait.

"Most troubling of all is the indirect message this embargo sends, which is only those who are able and willing to pay for literature and information deserve to have access to it as soon as it is available," he says. "That philosophy goes against everything we stand for at NPL."

Nashville library patrons borrowed e-books almost 1 million times in the past year. They're especially popular among those with visual impairments and learning disabilities.

Macmillan — whose titles include the bestselling In Death series by J.D. Robb — cited internal research showing free access to books are affecting their profits.

Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO Patrick Losinki disagrees. He says public libraries are "the best marketing tool that authors and publishers have."

The American Library Association has launched an online petition calling for Macmillan to change course.