Macmillan’s Library Ebook Embargo is a Call to Action

In a letter sent to “Macmillan Authors, Macmillan Illustrators, and Agents“ on Thursday, July 25th, Macmillan CEO John Sargent announced new lending terms and pricing for library ebooks, claiming library lending was “cannibalizing sales“ and impacting royalties as revenue from library sales are “a small fraction of the revenue we share with you on a retail read.”

Macmillan Ebook EmbargoThe new terms were announced after Macmillan had “windowed a portion of the Tor ebook frontlist for 16 weeks as a test” in 2018, and their findings led them to conclude that library ebooks were having a negative impact on retail sales.

Beyond the debatable analysis of their windowing experiment, one of the more puzzling aspects of the announcement was Sargent’s claims of “active marketing by various parties to turn purchasers into borrowers, and apps that support lending across libraries regardless of residence (including borrowing from libraries in different states and countries).”

While the embargo is disappointing news for libraries, authors, and, most importantly, readers—it reinforces the need for a cross-industry initiative to identify ways publishers and libraries can continue to support their intrinsically related missions while delivering mutually beneficial outcomes.

I’ve gathered links to Sargent’s complete letter and notable industry coverage of the embargo into a single post over at the Panorama Project which you should absolutely go read and share as widely as possible.


RELATED: I’ve been busy the past few weeks getting settled into my new gig as Project Lead for the Panorama Project, and although I didn’t get a chance to make a specific announcement here, Publishers Weekly ran a great article about it: Panorama Project Pivots, Taps New Leader.

If you have any questions, or would like to be more involved in the Project’s work, please contact me directly at glecharles@panoramaproject.org.

Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

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