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 .