"Panorama Picks" Details Picks for Local Booksellers

The Panorama Project is releasing regional lists intending “to help libraries and booksellers work together more effectively to better serve active readers in their communities, while helping publishers and authors identify regional marketing opportunities for titles (and authors) that have moved beyond their initial marketing windows.”

The “lists are generated using aggregated, anonymized U.S. public library ebook demand data provided by OverDrive and the following process:

  • 3 categories—Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, YA Fiction & Nonfiction

  • 9 regions—8 aligned with ABA regional associations, plus Hawaii

  • 25 titles published in the last 12-24 months that are available in print to libraries and booksellers—trade and self-published

  • Filtered to limit known bestsellers, book club selections, other heavily promoted titles, etc.”

Any work in which libraries might benefit booksellers, and so authors, is worthy of note. Let us hope for more cooperation for the benefit of readers.

Anyone Up For Joining a Boycott?

RF is a little late to the party on this, one, but coming late doesn’t preclude action.

Libraries in the Washington Digital Library Consortium have undertaken a boycott of Blackstone audio in response to the publishers embargoing the sales to libraries for 90 days.

As the linked post indicates, Blackstone has taken notice and is inquiring of its “strategic partner” [Amazon?] if sales to library vendors might go on without the embargo.

They have provided a helpful toolkit and are getting positive comments from patrons.

Anyone want to join?

Thanks to the libraries in Washington, and Arizona, Idaho, and Texas that have joined them, for leading the way!

Steve Potash of OverDrive Comments on Macmillan

Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive, has commented thoughtfully on Macmillan’s recent e-book decision.

Various members of the ReadersFirst Working Group have sometimes disagreed respectfully with some of OverDrive’s decisions. In this case, Mr. Potash, we thank you for your well-supported and thoughtful response to Macmillan's recent announcement on library e-books. Mr. Sargent of Macmillan has, as you point out, rightfully ignored one of the prime reasons why his company survives: the support of libraries helping readers discover Macmillan authors. We hope for unified action on the part of libraries to bring Macmillan's false claims to the attention of the public, using your examples as one of the many reasons why Sargent's decision is bad for libraries, bad for readers, and bad ultimately for writers.

Mr. Potash’s post is well-worth reading and sharing!

More Responses to the Macmillan Decision

Macmillan’s changes on e-books last week have one good outcome: uniting the library community to push back.

Canadian Urban Library Council has released this statement: http://www.culc.ca/cms_lib/CULC%20Statement%20on%20Macmillan%20US%20Lending.pdf

The statement notes that “For print books, which are protected by copyright law from library embargoes, libraries have a long history of serving as a place of discovery where readers can find new content and authors. Digital content should be no different.”

 ALA now has a page, with actions members of the library community and library users can take. Please add your voices:   http://www.ala.org/advocacy/e-books

 Urban Library Council has sent out this message:

We are writing this email during a break in the ULC Executive Board meeting being held in Calgary. We have just concluded a lengthy discussion on the e-book and audio book mess. 

Immediate actions include members of ULC and  the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) working together to:

 - identify the most critical issues that must be addressed and prioritizing these

 - develop strategies for moving forward as a united, powerful group of North America’s public libraries

 - engage all of our members and invite all other organizations and libraries to join a campaign that addresses the access and equity issues that endanger our democracy.

We will provide an update on initial steps by the end of next week and look forward to your input and guidance.

 Regards, Vickery Bowles

Chair, ULC Executive Board of Directors

 Susan Benton, President/CEO, ULC

ReadersFirst celebrates this announcement of joint action and hopes that we can make an appeal to perhaps our most powerful advocates, library readers.

Publishers Weekly Reports on the Macmillan Changes

Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly has posted a wide-ranging story on the e-book changes Macmillan announced today [disclosure: members of the RF Working Group are quoted].

This article clarifies that the only good news in Macmillan’s announcement—the possibility of getting a perpetual license, if only one—is limited: “A Macmillan spokesperson confirmed to PW that the single perpetual access copy will be available only for new release titles in the first eight weeks after publication—the option to buy a single perpetual access copy expires after that eight week window, and the offer is not available for backlist titles.”

Too bad about all those titles that might fail to make a splash but later become in demand or recognized as significant. Our ability to curate them, praised by Mr. Sargent as an advantage of the changes, is non-existent and undermines Sargent’s claim.

ALA Senior Director for Public Policy & Government Relations Alan Inouye is quoted as saying the following: "Worse than expected," he told PW. "Embargoes violate the principle of equitable access to information that is at the core of libraries," he added, pointing out that Macmillan's policy is curiously out of step with the rest of the industry. "Within the past year, three of the other Big Five publishers revised their library e-book business models, and none of them concluded that libraries were a threat to their profitability," Inouye observed. "Indeed, these other publishers believe that libraries are benefit to their businesses. Macmillan stands alone with its embargo."

Other librarians also weigh in: “And both [Director of White Plains Library Brian} Kenney and [director, Collections & Membership Services, Toronto Public Library Susan] Caron say Macmillan clearly did not listen to librarian input, because the new terms are not useful. "If we need more than one copy of a title, we’ll just wait. Our users will be upset if we don’t buy more to reduce holds, as we normally do. And if we can wait eight weeks, we may decide not to buy the title at all."

Since that wait is precisely what Macmillan wants, however, would it be a better idea to license the one and tell our patrons to complain to Macmillan when they want more?

FY 2019 can go down as the year that the Big 5 screwed over libraries, and, more importantly, library readers. We thank Harper Collins for resisting the parade and continuing to offer its e-books on a circulation based (and not time bound) license. HC, add the option for a perpetual license, and you become the company that cares.

The ALA Responds to the Macmillan E-book Changes

The American Library Association has responded to the Macmillan’s e-book license changes.

“Macmillan Publishers’ new model for library ebook lending will make it difficult for libraries to fulfill our central mission: ensuring access to information for all,” said ALA President Wanda Brown. “Limiting access to new titles for libraries means limiting access for patrons most dependent on libraries.

“When a library serving many thousands has only a single copy of a new title in ebook format, it’s the library – not the publisher – that feels the heat. It’s the local library that’s perceived as being unresponsive to community needs.

“Macmillan’s new policy is unacceptable,” said Brown. “ALA urges Macmillan to cancel the embargo.”

ALA calls on library customers of Macmillan Publishers to tell CEO John Sargent they object to the publishing company’s new policy.”

ALA calls on library customers of Macmillan Publishers to tell CEO John Sargent they object to the publishing company’s new policy.”

Macmillan Publishers
Attn: Mr. John Sargent, CEO
120 Broadway Street
New York, NY 10271
Phone: 646-307-5151
Email: press.inquiries@macmillan.com
Twitter: @MacmillanUSA

ALA asks that these communications also be sent to ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office at alawash@alawash.org.

ReadersFirst supports the ALA’s position and encourages libraries and citizens to communicate their displeasure to Macmillan.

Macmillan Announces Its New Library E-Books Terms

John Sargent of Macmillan has announced the publisher’s new terms on library e-books.

They include the following:

  • “We will make one copy of your [Macmillan authors] ebook available to each library system in perpetuity upon publication. On that single copy we will cut the price in half to $30 (currently first copies are $60 and need renewal after two years or 52 lends).”

  • “Additional copies of that title will not be available for library purchase until 8 weeks after publication.”

  • All other terms remain in place. It is important to note that the 8-week window only applies to ebooks; the library can order as many physical books as they like on publication.”

How very generous to let us buy all the print books we want, since you can’t stop us anyway due to print being covered by copyright and not license.

There is one positive development. Making copies available in two licensing terms (1 copy on perpetual use plus others on a two year/52 circulations metered model) shows that flexibility is possible. ReadersFirst has long advocated for this possibility but has sometimes been told it is technically impossible—a claim we dismiss because we have seen some smaller publishers offer multiple licensing. Having one copy available for perpetual use is a gain over having everything offered only on metered licenses.

As part of their change, Macmillan might have adopted a 50 circulation only model and set prices at what they thought fair. $75 might not have been out-of-line, equaling $1.50 per read. Time-bound licenses make many e-books a gamble for libraries, except in the case of relatively few best sellers. Under such a model, libraries, publisher, and authors know what revenue will be per use. If libraries doesn’t get a lot of circulation on a title, we can at least have time to promote it and hope it will be used in time. Perhaps they could offer three models: 1 copy/1 user perpetual, 25 circulations with no time limit and simultaneous use, and 50 circulations at one user/one copy, no time limit, all priced fairly. Don’t worry, publishers—the options wouldn’t be too complicated for librarians to figure out.

Of course, the small amount of good news in Macmillan’s announcement is overshadowed by their decision to embargo the sales of library digital content for 8 weeks. ReadersFirst is not surprised by the decision to embargo sales. After the Tor experiment, we saw it coming. Macmillan is a business. For all their claims to be supporting authors, they are clearly most concerned about their profits. But we are dismayed, and curious: how is it even legal to embargo sales to libraries? ReadersFirst calls for government investigation of this practice. It disadvantages library users, restricts the flow of valuable information, and undermines an informed citizenry. Some of Macmillan’s claims are preposterous and reflect a woeful lack of understanding. There is no friction in e-lending? Mr. Sargent has clearly never tried to enable a group of librarians, many of them deeply convinced that print is better, to learn digital use well enough to help our patrons, much less heard our patrons’ struggles to get library digital content or the expressions of surprise by many patrons that we have e-books at all. I only wish the process were as easy and seamless as he makes it out to be and that as many patrons know about library digital content as he presumes. Libraries are fortunate to be protected by the right of first sale for printed titles. If we were not, why wouldn’t Macmillan embargo sales of print to libraries, hoping to squeeze every dollar from the consumer market before graciously allowing readers “to lean heavily toward free”?

It is hard to know quite how to respond, other than to ask for government action and perhaps take legal action, without disadvantaging library readers. We could stop buying Macmillan titles altogether and let them see what that does to their sales, but such an action would force readers, many of whom might not have much disposable income, to buy on their own as well as take away content from our libraries. What we clearly need is unified action. We need to organize, take our case to our readers, encouraging them to write for government action and to boycott purchase of Macmillan e-books until such time as libraries also have access to these titles. Macmillan’s actions harm library readers. Ultimately, they harm the very authors Macmillan protests they are helping. Libraries are vital for promoting authors and their works, helping discovery of content that we would argue, yes, promotes sales beyond libraries. It is time for us not just to take a stand, but to ask our millions of readers to take a stand with us.

A Concerned E-Book Post in American Libraries

Alan Inouye of ALA’s Washington Office has posted on ALA’s “ongoing concerns over library prices for ebooks and audiobooks.”

Mr. Inouye’s concern about other embargoes happening is well-founded. His call for joint action in a task-force from various library stake-holders is encouraging.

ReadersFirst encourages all libraries to support and participate in efforts to move forward, including considering a boycott (in print and digital) of all publishers who enact embargoes, taking our case to the public, and considering possible legal action. Is it legal to sell to consumers and not to libraries? Perhaps it is time for a test case to see.

It's not DRM, it's licensing . . . but, yes, they are connected


Says Brian Barrett, “YOUR ITUNES MOVIES, your Kindle books—they’re not really yours. You don’t own them. You’ve just bought a license that allows you to access them, one that can be revoked at any time. And while a handful of incidents have brought that reality into sharp relief over the years, none has quite the punch of Microsoft disappearing every single ebook from every one of its customers.”

When consumers feel the pinch that libraries feel even more, is it time to advocate for government action (not that corporations don’t have more power than consumers, making action unlikely), or at least to try an advocacy campaign with the public to generate interest and even anger about restrictive licensing in libraries?

What have we got to lose?

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Announces “E-Read Texas” Electronic Books

A press release about an interesting library e-book development in Texas, expanding access to readers in smaller communities through SimplyE. Well done, TSLAC!

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Austin, TX

July 8, 2019

 Austin, TX – The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) announces a new program, E-Read Texas, to bring electronic books to Texans served by small community libraries in all parts of the state beginning September 1. The E-Read Texas program will provide an easy-to-use platform to access e-books provided by TSLAC alongside materials purchased by local libraries.

 “We are very happy to be able to offer Texans access to these high-demand materials through their public libraries,” said Mark Smith, Director and Texas State Librarian. “We recognize the great need in communities across the state for diverse reading materials and are excited to partner with local libraries to provide cost-effective and user-friendly access to those resources.”

 TSLAC will partner with Amigos Library Services to make SimplyE, an open-source e-book platform, available to as many as 225 small and medium-sized community libraries over the next two years. SimplyE includes easy-to-use e-reader apps for iOS and Android, allowing users to check out and read e-books provided by their local library.

 “Enhancing the collections of public libraries and making these materials available 24/7 is a great benefit to communities in Texas. We encourage everyone to get a library card to take advantage of this and the many other amazing things libraries offer for free,” said Alan Kornblau, Chief Executive Officer of Amigos Library Services. “We are proud to partner with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in providing this easy access to electronic books for people of all ages.”

 This project represents the first stage of a multi-year project aimed to bring more e-books to Texans via their public libraries. The program complements TSLAC’s TexShare and TexQuest programs that leverage statewide buying power to bring cost-effective access to e-resources to virtually every person in the state. Texans use e-resources provided by TSLAC over 140 million times each year.

 The E-Read Texas program will include a collection of general-interest adult fiction and non-fiction e-books. Libraries will be able stretch local book budgets by using these e-books to supplement their existing collections, all of which will be available through the SimplyE platform.

 TSLAC is working collaboratively with the Texas library community to select content for the E-Read Texas collection, which will be available before the end of the calendar year. The E-Read Texas program will have a statewide impact built on local needs that improves the ability of Texas libraries to engage with their communities.

More information about E-Read Texas can be found on TSLAC’s Director’s Report blog at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/director/e-read-texas-tslac-e-book-project/ and Library Developments blog at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/librarydevelopments/?p=24660.

Danielle Cunniff Plumer

Statewide Resource Sharing Administrator

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Library Development and Networking Division