An Article from Publisher's Weekly on Tor/Macmillan

Mr. Andrew Albanese of Publisher’s Weekly has written an informative piece about Tor’s change in library e-book sales. ReadersFirst is grateful to Mr. Albanese for a careful and fair exploration [https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/77532-tor-scales-back-library-e-book-lending-as-part-of-test.html]

The following views are not advanced nor endorsed by Mr. Albanese, nor do they necessarily represent the views of the ReadersFirst Working Group. They are one librarian’s thoughts only.

I am deeply concerned and far from optimistic about a number of ramifications of Macmillan’s response to Publisher’s Weekly:

I am grateful that Tor/Macmillan softened its statement to say "We have been seeing an adverse impact on our e-book sales over a period of time . . . and are using this test to determine if library e-book lending is one of the contributing factors." Nevertheless, Tor/Macmillan have apparently chosen not to reconsider its “test” but rather to continue with an action that has no supporting evidence. Using us in a “test” shows an outright disregard for libraries that suggests we have been altogether too optimistic in thinking our relations with publishers are improving. While I earnestly hope that libraries and library patrons will express concern to Tor/Macmillan and to take action if Tor will not respond, I now have little hope that Tor will engage with us.

Libraries have reason to fear that Macmillan, in spite of having no plans “at the moment” to add other divisions, may expand this content widowing. And is Macmillan alone? Or will other large publishers join in, responding not to the effect of library e-book sales but to changes in the market far beyond the influence of libraries? I am willing to wager that we shall see more such changes, perhaps much before many might expect.

Mr. Albanese would certain agree on one point, for he makes it himself: a communication void does seem to be reemerging between libraries and publishers. The Digital Content Working Group (DCWG) did not fit into ALA”s long-term structure, but the need for such a group and regular meetings now seems more vital than ever.

Time will tell if these concerns are the misguided cries of a digital content Chicken Little. It is all to easy, however, to foresee an future with libraries squeezed out of the e-book market. I encourage libraries and librarians to get engaged, regain the energy that helped bring us more content years ago, and work for business models that will be fair but allow us to grow e-books beyond a boutique collection. The circulation of physical materials is generally on the decline across the county, while digital content has continued to grow. Without action on our part, will that growth continue?

Michael Blackwell, Communication and Advocacy Work Stream, ReadersFirst

Director, St. Mary’s County Library          

A Communication to Tor/Macmillan

Tor has announced a four month embargo on the sale of library eBooks.  In Response, ReadersFirst has prepared the following statement in concern.  We encourage all libraries and library customers to register your concerns with Tor at elending.feedback@macmillan.com.

"We are the ReadersFirst Working Group, 35 librarians and library administrators representing not only our libraries but in some cases consortiums, with hundreds of libraries. We have seen your announcement that reads in part as follows:

“Tor Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers and a leading global publisher of science fiction and fantasy will be changing our eBook lending model to libraries as part of a test program to determine the impact of eLending on retail sales. Our current analysis on eLending indicates it is having a direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales.

Effective with July 2018 publications, all new titles from Tor Books will become available for library eBook distribution four months after their retail on-sale date rather than the current program which allows libraries to purchase the titles on their retail on-sale date. During the test period, we will work closely with our library vendors who service this channel to evaluate the results and develop ongoing terms that will best support Tor’s authors, their agents, and Tor’s channel partners.”

We are deeply concerned about this embargo. We dispute your claims. That the Sci-Fi/Fantasy eBook market may be changing, with a large growth in sales of indie sales, is beyond doubt: http://authorearnings.com/sfwa2018/. What, however, is your evidence that eBook lending by libraries is having a deleterious effect upon your sales? Could trends other than library eBooks sales have more to do with any decline you may be seeing? We are particularly concerned about the spread of a false narrative that (we have heard) is perhaps being promulgated by Amazon. Self-published eBook sales now represent the largest market share as measured by unit sales.  Amazon dominates overall unit sale distribution. By revenue, the company ranks fifth in eBook sales and second in eAudiobook sales. We suspect that Amazon is using indie sales to lower pricing while deeply discounting higher priced larger publisher content, as noted here by “Amazon Ebook Dollars By Discount from Digital List price”:  http://authorearnings.com/report/january-2018-report-us-online-book-sales-q2-q4-2017/  We wonder if Amazon, and not libraries, is the source of any decline you may be seeing.

If any Amazon claim about library sales is the basis for your action, we believe you have acted without full consideration of the market.  Regardless, before taking this action, could you have relayed your concerns to, for example, the American Library Association? You could have expressed your worry about lost revenue, offered us evidence, and engaged in us dialogue about solutions. Instead, you chose with no advanced notice to disadvantage our readers, many of whom discover your products through libraries. We believe that help you by fostering discovery of your content, not to mention the titles we ourselves buy from you. 

We are spreading word of your decision through the library community. We ask that you reverse course or at least offer evidence to support your claims. We are considering different courses of action, ranging from a boycott of all Tor publications to a moratorium of our own, not buying your print or eBooks for four months from publication date and explaining to millions of library users the reasons for our decision. At the very least, we shall inform library readers of your decision. We exist to provide reading for content-hungry users, and we do not lightly wish to deprive them of quality content, nor do we wish to have adversarial relationships. Your action, however, may be forcing our hand.  

We are at least encouraged that you wish to participate in the Panorama Project. Would it have been a better course to delay your action until that project was further along?

We hope that you are willing to open a dialogue with us.  Please consider responding to this message to let us know if we might arrange a conference call between you and our many members.  

We await your reply."

A Giant Leap . . . Backwards

Tor Books, a Division of Macmillan, has decided that, in keeping with its SciFi focus, it will go back in time. In this case, it is returning to a far less enlightened time, to the days when eBooks were often embargoed for public libraries. Here is a statement from them.

"Tor Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers and a leading global publisher of science fiction and fantasy will be changing our eBook lending model to libraries as part of a test program to determine the impact of eLending on retail sales. Our current analysis on eLending indicates it is having a direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales.

Effective with July 2018 publications, all new titles from Tor Books will become available for library eBook distribution four months after their retail on-sale date rather than the current program which allows libraries to purchase the titles on their retail on-sale date. During the test period, we will work closely with our library vendors who service this channel to evaluate the results and develop ongoing terms that will best support Tor’s authors, their agents, and Tor’s channel partners.

In addition, Macmillan will actively participate in the recently launched “Panorama Project,” the first large-scale, data-driven research project focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and retail sales (panoramaproject.org <http://panoramaproject.org/> ).

With data from both programs, we will be in a better position to analyze and understand the impact of eLending on our publishing program. The timing of the test period is open-ended.     

 This email was sent by: Macmillan 175 Fifth Ave., 6th Floor New York, NY" 

ReadersFirst encourages all libraries to express their displeasure with this wrong-headed decision. How have they determined that libraries have a "direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales"? Where's your evidence, Tor? Could it be instead that eBook readers are discovering the burgeoning self-published eBook market and buying titles directly from authors or other platforms?  Could your pricing model have anything to do with it? And if libraries simply stop buying your eBooks, since perhaps after 4 months there won't be any demand period, will it help your authors?

Librarians of the world, unite!  Tell Tor and Macmillan what you think at elending.feedback@macmillan.com .

    

The National E-book Summit

RF Friends from ALA's ASCLA Group have shared some information about the upcoming National E-book Summit, which will be this Friday, right before ALA Annual in New Orleans.

RF representatives have been invited and will report back on the summit.

"As discussed at previous ASCLA consortial ebook interest group meetings, an ALA national ebook summit has been planned.

For planning and financial purposes, we had to keep the summit to a small number and were unable to invite everyone to this event.  

The goals of the ALA national ebook summit is as follows: 

•    Facilitate conversation and critical thinking about improving access to eBooks and to strengthening our approach to analysis and evaluation around eBooks;

•    Build connections and understanding across all the different players in the eBook field; and to

•    Document the ideas and paths forward into a national agenda that we will share widely and draw in more partners to work on current and new projects and next steps.
 
But never fear, Friday’s summit is only the beginning – it marks a place on the road already travelled by several initiatives, but this effort is the start of an inclusive collaboration that will identify concrete next steps to resolve the digital dilemmas affecting all players; we’re not just pointing at the issues.

Much like many of you, we’re committing to work together, to each put skin in the game, to make the ebook business work better for all partners and all readers.
 
We will restart the ASCLA consortial ebook interest group meetings back up at the ALA midwinter conference in Seattle.

If you are attending ALA, we look forward to seeing you in and around NOLA at the various ebook events being convened by our friends at DPLA and ALA

Thanks to all of you for being a BIG part of the momentum that keeps this conversation and collaboration going. 

We couldn’t do it without you!

Yours in library love,

Paula MacKinnon, Califa Library Group
Veronda J. Pitchford, Reaching Across Illinois Library System
Stephen H. Spohn, Jr., Massachusetts Library System

Satterwhite: Not Quite the End of Net Neutrality"

Ellen Satterwhite has written a thoughtful article for ALA's Library Policy News discussing efforts at the federal and state level to block the repeal of net neutrality rules.

"The good news is, consumers and patrons are unlikely to see changes to the internet service they buy today. The bad news is, there’s now no 'cop on the beat,' no enforceable protections that are essential to ensuring open and nondiscriminatory access to online information for all.

If Internet Service Providers are allowed to control or manipulate the content of internet communications — to block, throttle and prevent you from accessing the internet any way you want — then the work of modern libraries becomes that much harder. But there are opportunities for relief."

ReadersFirst supports efforts to re-establish net neutrality or to foster state/local enforcement of it and encourages library readers to take action.

You can help by:

  1. Continuing to tell your members of Congress (or thanking them!) that net neutrality is critical to the modern library and our communities through our action alert.
  2. If your plans and means allow, joining a #DayofAction for net neutrality allies in Washington, D.C. on June 26 sponsored by our allies. Here is a link to register.
  3. Initiating or joining in-district events when your members of Congress are home for recess. Invite them to a library, talk about what an open internet means for your patrons and community–be like Dave Mantz!
  4. Tell your ISP (and your local media and your patrons) that you are watching and expect them to respect their commitments to an open internet. In fact, you’d like them to put it in writing.

  Michael Blackwell, St Mary's County Library

Take Action for the Marrakesh Treaty

This post is from our Friend at the ALA Washington Office:

Advocacy Alert: Marrakesh Treaty

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After many years of hard work, we are one step closer to seeing the Marrakesh Treaty implemented in the United States.

The Marrakesh Treaty is an international copyright treaty that was adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization and signed by the U.S. in October 2013. It provides a copyright exception - the first ever in an international treaty - for libraries as authorized entities to make accessible copies of articles and books for people with print disabilities and distribute those copies across borders.

Right now, over 3.2 million people in the United States live with print disabilities that make it difficult for them to read print text. Moreover, less than 5% of published content is available to them. If the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act is passed the United States will be able to provide a wealth of new accessible content to Americans with print disabilities, including those who speak English as a second language. In many ways, this is a civil rights law. It affirms that access to information is a universal right for all people regardless of circumstance.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote on S. 2559 tomorrow. Please contact your Senator today and ask them to show their support for people with print disabilities by cosponsoring the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559).

 Send an Email 

Want to learn more? Read about it here.

ReadersFirst joins ALA in asking for action. We are committed to having e-books be as accessible as possible, and the Marrakesh Treaty would be most helpful in promoting this goal.

Back to the FY 2019 budget

More from our friends at the ALA Washington Office:

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What Happened

Now that we are finished with the House, the "Dear Appropriator" letters have begun circulating in the Senate, asking Senators to preserve over $210 million in federal library funding for FY 2019. One letter asks the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the second asks for full funding for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.

Why It Matters

The more Senators who sign these letters, the better the chance that the funding for the LSTA and IAL programs will be preserved, especially as the battle for domestic spending becomes more intense and Members of Congress look for programs to cut. These programs represent the bulk of federal funding provided for libraries. IAL is the only dedicated federal funding provided for school libraries. Moreover, under the rules of LSTA, states are required to match one third of their federal contribution. This means any cut to LSTA in the FY2019 budget will lead to a budget reduction at the state level.

What You Can Do Now

Many Senators will only sign a "Dear Appropriator" letter if their constituents ask them. Use the Action Center to send your Senators an email and ask them to contact Senator Reed's office to sign on to the LSTA and IAL letters.

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Please support federal library funding, which has been instrumental in allowing libraries to help improve the digital experience.

Advocacy Alert: #FundLibraries Update

Our Friends at the ALA Washington Office have shared a call to restore Library Funding.  Please help!

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What Happened

This year's "Dear Appropriator" letters have started to circulate in the House, asking Representatives to preserve at least $210 million in federal library funding. One letter asks members of the House Appropriations Committee to fully fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the second does the same for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.

Why It Matters

The battle for domestic spending is becoming more intense, and Congress is looking for programs to cut. The more members of Congress who sign these letters, the better the chance that the Appropriators will preserve the funding for the LSTA and IAL programs. And as you know from our previous emails, these programs represent the bulk of the federal funding that is provided for libraries. Under the rules of LSTA, states are required to match one third of their federal contribution. Any cut to LSTA in the FY 2019 budget will likely lead to a cut in library funding at the state level. Additionally, IAL is the only dedicated federal funding provided for school libraries.

What You Can Do Now

Many Representatives will only sign on to a "Dear Appropriator" letter if their constituents ask them! Use the ALA Action Center to send your representative an email and ask them to contact Rep. Raul Grijalva's office to sign on to the LSTA letter and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to sign on to the IAL letter.

Time is short - the deadline for the letters is March 19th, so don't delay!

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Not sure if your Rep. has signed yet? Check our tracker.

Need more information? Check out our lastest post on District Dispatch.

And stay tuned! The Senate will soon be circulating "Dear Appropriator" letters of their own. We'll be back with more updates soon.

 

#OneMoreVote to Restore Net Neutrality

Join our friends at the ALA in asking for the restoration of Net Neutrality:

Send your message here:  https://cqrcengage.com/ala/app/write-a-letter?2&engagementId=443593

 

The FCC voted to gut the net neutrality protections that limit the power of Internet Service Providers – like Verizon and Comcast – to slow websites, block mobile apps, or in any way control the information we access. This 3-2 vote to roll back strong, enforceable net neutrality protections was made amid widespread protests, millions of public comments and overwhelming opposition from across the political spectrum. 

Modern libraries rely on the internet to collect, create and disseminate essential online information and services to the public. Strong, enforceable net neutrality rules, like the ones Chairman Pai just rushed to dismantle, are critical to keeping the internet working the way it does now. 

The Congressional Review Act gives Congress the ability and authority to nullify the FCC's actions -- and we already have 50 votes in the Senate. With one more vote, the Senate can and should vote to restore net neutrality and protect the free and open internet. And the House will be next. Call and email your members of Congress today and ask them to use a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the FCC's disturbing rulemaking.

 

More Support for Library Funding Urgently Needed

Our friends at ALA Washington's Office have sent the following request.  Please consider supporting library funding nationally! 

Advocacy Alert: Federal Library Funding

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What Happened

This week, the White House released its budget proposal for FY2019. As we anticipated, the budget proposed a significant cut to federal library funding. The administration's budget proposal eliminates the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which provides approximately $183 million in direct funding to libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The budget proposal also eliminates the $27 million Innovative Approaches to Literacy program administered by the Department of Education.

Why It Matters

These proposed cuts would impact many libraries across the country. While public and school libraries would see the largest effects, academic libraries with state-funded databases are also implicated. Since each state is required to match one-third of their federal LSTA grants, any cut to LSTA in the FY2019 budget is likely to lead to a cut on the state level. In addition, the cuts to IAL specifically target school library funding, which will make it harder for vulnerable schools to acquire the books, resources, and training needed to provide high-quality literacy programs for their students. 

Wait, What Happened to the FY 2018 Budget?

Last week, Congress passed and the president signed an FY2018 budget deal that will likely include at least level funding for federal library programs at FY 2017 levels. While this budget agreement is a positive step towards resolving the FY 2018 budget, Congress will still be working on the final spending bill for a few more weeks. The ALA Washington Office will continue to monitor progress on the bill.  

What You Can Do Now

Congress will have the final say on budget allocations for these programs in the FY2019 budget. Now is the time to let them know how important federal library funding is to their constituents. Use the ALA Action Center to send your Representatives an email  and ask for their public support of library funding throughout the FY2019 appropriations cycle.

This will be a many-step process and we will need your help at key times along the way. Stay tuned for updates.

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