mwianecki's blog

Ever wonder why many of your favorite authors aren’t available in an eBook format at MTPL? The answer might surprise you. Six publishers carry the majority of popular authors and all of their policies concerning selling eBooks to libraries are different. Many publishers currently do not sell eBooks to libraries because they’re worried people will be more willing to click to borrow than click to buy. It’s an important issue because it hinders the Library’s ability to provide equal access to materials.

eBooks can be circulated in the same way as traditional books. They are no more likely to deter people from purchasing what they enjoy reading than printed reading materials have for generations.

Join our letter-writing campaign to find a form letter you can send to your favorite author. Knowledge is power. Defend your right to access eBooks through your public library.

Issues that impede MTPL’s ability to provide good customer service:

  • Publishers not making eBooks available in Kindle and ePub format
  • Publishers not making eAudiobooks available in mp3 format
  • Publishers not producing all of the titles in a series
  • The inability to purchase eBooks and eAudiobooks to supplement the book club collection. The District purchases what it can, but many titles are not available.

Policies of major publishers:

MacMillan Publishing does not sell to the library community. Some of its authors are Keith Ablow, Barbara Ehrenheit, Steve Hamilton, Orson Scott Card, the Hungry Girls series, and Tatiana de Rosnay.

Hachette Book Group sells limited eBooks to the library community. Some that are not available include James Patterson, Don Winslow, and Pseudonymous Bosch. There are four eBooks in the top ten of the Library’s holds that were initially sold to MTPL by Hachette for which we can no longer get more copies. They are The Dangerous Days of Daniel X and Don’t Blink by James Patterson, Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, and The Reversal by Michael Connelly. All of these titles are now hidden from the patrons to prevent future holds.

Simon and Schuster does not sell to the library community. Some of their authors include Jodi Picoult, Mary Higgins Clark, Vince Flynn, Stephen King, Mark R. Levin, Jeffery Deaver, Brad Thor, and Glenn Beck. The new Steve Jobs biography is also one of its titles.

Penguin Group formerly sold to the library community. It has some authors for which it has never sold eBooks. Last November, Penguin decided to stop selling new titles to libraries, but agreed to continue selling copies of titles libraries already owned. It revised that decision in early February and gave libraries across the country until the end of the day to order titles before it would stop selling to libraries altogether. Many authors have books under the Penguin imprint which includes John Green, Harlan Coben, Lee Child, J.R. Ward, Anne Lamott, Clive Cussler, Kathryn Stockett, Robert B. Parker, Stephen King, W.E.B. Griffin, Catherine Coulter, Jodi Picoult, Nevada Barr, Patricia Cornwell, Charlaine Harris and Julie Garwood.

Random House recently tripled the prices for its eBook titles. Some cookbooks are $85 each now and a collection of the Dean Koontz “Frankenstein” stories is $119. Random House authors include John Grisham, Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, Stephen Hawking, Margaret Atwood, Danielle Steel, Jeff Lindsay, E L James, Suze Orman, Linda Howard, Kay Hooper, James Ellroy, Amitav Ghosh, Karen Robards, and John Gleick.

HarperCollins Publishers began licensing use of each eBook copy for a maximum of 26 loans in March of 2011. Authors include Meg Cabot, Sara Shepard, Tim Tebow, Diane Mott Davidson, S.J. Watson, Lauren Oliver, C.S. Lewis, and L.J. Smith. The books are affordable and this model has not caused any problems.

eAudiobooks

Brilliance Audio ceased selling to the library community upon its purchase by Amazon in 2007. The Library retains the titles that it purchased previous to the ban. The eAudiobooks include titles by Nora Roberts / J.D. Robb, Harlan Coben, Stuart Woods, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Heather Graham.

Is your favorite author here? Send them this letter c/o their publisher.

... Ms./Mr. (insert author's name);

As a patron and supporter of libraries, I have long appreciated the opportunities that technology has granted libraries in the pursuit of providing information and entertainment to their patrons. The fact that we can access information 24/7 through our library's website equates to a service of inestimable proportion. Likewise, the opportunity for libraries to share electronic copies of books - both in text and audio format - has been a great boon to the public's ability to access information. Electronic reading devices, as you are well aware, are now a massive part of the way many people consume literature and information, and libraries need to be able to provide that content as they have always done. Over the last two years, the demand for eBooks has grown by leaps and bounds, and many library patrons are moving to eReaders as their choice for content delivery.

With that said, I want to express my displeasure with your publisher, (insert publisher's name). Rather than helping their longtime partners, public libraries, this publisher (and others like it) will not sell to public libraries. This disenfranchises public library users and cuts them off from your work. Patrons request that libraries provide this content constantly, but libraries have no recourse but to turn them away. Given the explosive growth of e-content, if public libraries cannot meet the needs of their patrons, libraries have less value in our communities. These publishers are, in effect, engaged in business practices directly detrimental to the survival of the public library in this country.

I understand that publishers are nervous about their property and intellectual rights - and authors are, too. What I do NOT understand, however, is why your publisher is apparently refusing to work with libraries at all in regard to e-content. There is already a secure DRM (Digital Rights Management) solution provided by all providers of e-content to libraries. I cannot believe that you, a popular author, do not want the public reading your materials, or to be able to borrow your materials, through the method that they prefer: from a public library.

I would ask you, as a prominent author, to bring pressure to bear on your publisher to open their e-content to public libraries. Failure to do so will deny public library patrons like myself access to your materials and other valuable content in the format that they desire. If the libraries of the future cannot provide content to patrons, they will truly die. That will be a very sad day for this country and for those who depend on the equitable access to information that they provide.

Sincerely,

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