Statements from ALA and Canadian Urban Library Council

ReadersFirst applauds these statements:

From CULC:

Fritz Foy President and Publisher Tor Books 175 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10010

Dear Mr. Foy

I am writing this letter on behalf of the Canadian Urban Libraries Council / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CULC/CBUC), regarding your four-month embargo on sales of new Tor ebooks to libraries. CULC/CBUC member libraries expend over $90 million annually on collections including $11 million on digital resources. More than 65% of all Canadians are served by a CULC/CBUC member library, and the activity in CULC/CBUC libraries comprises more than 80% of Canada’s public library activity. We are both disappointed and surprised regarding your statement that “eLending is having a direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales”. We are unaware of any evidence to prove that claim, and, in fact, you should consider the following:

• Similar to the 2014 Pew Research Centre study that cited “…those who use libraries are more likely than others to be book buyers and actually prefer to buy books, rather than borrow them,”1

BookNet Canada confirms that patrons who are book-buyers buy more books than non-patrons at a rate of 2.3 vs 2.1 per month.2 •

“Libraries are key to the reading ecosystem. Their importance cannot be overstated. Libraries provide consumers with no-risk ways to try new media.” Maya Thomas, former senior vice president at Hachette Group3 •

“For publishers, the library will be the showroom of the future. Ensuring that libraries have continuing access to published titles gives them a chance to meet this goal, but an important obstacle remains: how eBooks are obtained by libraries.” David Vinjamuri in Forbes4 •

“And so it seems like a no-brainer. Libraries should be able to buy the books the same way you buy books, the same way I buy books, the same way they bought books forever, the same way that they bought books for longer than there’s been copyright, for longer than there has been publishing, for longer there’s been paper. Libraries should be able to buy books and they should be able to buy them on fair terms.” Cory Doctorow, Tor author5

This adversarial approach you are implementing is a direct affront to readers who rely on public libraries for access to their educational and recreational reading materials. Has research been undertaken to explore the significant increase in indie or self-publishing, and whether that might be the cause of the decrease in sales? For example: six out of the current ten top-selling science fiction books on Amazon are self-published.


2 Noah Genner, CEO, BookNet Canada




The implications of this change will be less demand and use from library users when your titles finally become available, resulting in fewer purchases of Tor books. This will particularly effect your new and midlist authors who depend on libraries for discovery of their titles. We contend that the ongoing loss of library sales, in conjunction with the long-term loss of retail sales due to reduced discovery of your authors will ultimately have a negative impact on your business. On behalf of public libraries, authors, and readers, we appeal to you to reverse this decision and instead engage public libraries to develop solutions to support one other in ensuring we continue to remain vital and flourishing organizations while at the same time provide excellent service to our customers. CULC/CBUC is invested in the long-term health and viability of a vibrant publishing industry, which we hope will include Tor Books. We are willing to work with publishers to achieve that goal, and we will be in touch with you on August 14 to arrange a meeting to discuss and identify alternative options that would benefit your company, your authors, public libraries and all readers.

Sincerely, Pilar Martinez Chair, Canadian Urban Libraries Council / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CULC/CBUC) CEO, Edmonton Public Library cc Jefferson Gilbert, Executive Director, Canadian Urban Libraries Council / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CULC/CBUC) CULC/CBUC Members

From ALA:


For Immediate Release


ALA: New Tor delay on library ebooks hurts readers, authors and libraries

CHICAGO - At the beginning of July, Tor, a division of Macmillan, announced without warning that it was immediately beginning to embargo ebook sales of new titles to libraries for four months. Today American Library Association (ALA) President Loida Garcia-Febo issued the following statement:

“The American Library Association and our members have worked diligently to increase access to and exposure for the widest range of ebooks and authors,” said Garcia-Febo. “Over years, ALA made great strides in working with publishers and distributors to better serve readers with increasingly robust digital collections. We remain committed to a vibrant and accessible reading ecosystem for all.

“I am dismayed now to see Tor bring forward a tired and unproven claim of library lending adversely affecting sales. This move undermines our shared commitment to readers and writers—particularly with no advance notice or discussion with libraries. In fact, Macmillan references its involvement with the Panorama Project, which is a large-scale, data-driven research project focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and sales. For this reason, this change by Tor—literally on the heels of Panorama’s launch—is particularly unexpected and unwelcome.

"The ALA calls for Macmillan to move just as quickly to reverse its course and immediately lift the embargo while the Panorama Project does its work.”

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit


Macey Morales

Deputy Director

Communications and Marketing Office

50 E. Huron

Chicago, IL 60611