Hachette, Blackstone Change Library Digital Content Models/Availability

Effective July 1, 2019, Blackstone Audio is placing a moratorium on sales of library content. Libraries cannot get this content until 90 days after the retail date.

Blackstone may be contacted at libraryservices@blackstoneaudio.com.

We encourage Blackstone customers to email, inquire the reasons for this change, and express their concern.

Hachette has also announced that effective July 1, 2019, [it] replace its perpetual ownership model for libraries with two-year access for e-books and digital audio books.

ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo has expressed concern.

“The elimination of perpetual ownership will reduce long-term access to ebooks and digital audio books and increase challenges to the long-term preservation of our nation’s cultural heritage,” said ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo. “While the announcement includes some positive changes, the model will further limit affordable access to reading for 172 million U.S. library card holders.”

“Libraries will welcome the reduced upfront costs and continued immediate access to new digital titles,” Garcia-Febo continued, “but the increased cost over time hurts our ability to support a vibrant ecosystem that benefits readers, authors and publishers.”

Garcia-Febo points out that at least Hachette is not following Blackstone and Macmillan/TOR with a moratorium but calls for coordinated support:

 “When a new book is released in the consumer market, libraries must be able to obtain it at the same time. Otherwise, the public believes that we are not being responsive to their needs. Library access is especially important to those whose financial situation precludes purchasing books.”

“To offer equitable access of information to our communities, libraries first must have fair and equitable access to resources, regardless of format, that is predictable and sustainable,” said Garcia-Febo. “We’ve had multiple cordial conversations with executives in publishing houses, with some disagreements. In the months ahead, ALA will amplify our role in championing the valuable and essential role of libraries in the publishing ecosystem. We will need strong collaboration with library advocates across the country to press our case.”

ReadersFirst encourages all its members, and all libraries internationally, to support the ALA and other organizations, such as Urban Library Council and Canadian Urban Library Council, in collaborating on action.

It does begin to appear, however, that many publishers are placing shareholders over library readers. That’s no surprise. We must advocate, certainly for multiple models at point of sale that will allow libraries to use their funds most effectively. We should at least ask the reasons for moratoriums. We should make a positive case in support of library readers. Since at least some publishers, we must infer, care nothing about the library market and library readers, however, and often simply ignore our questions, it might be too much to expect meaningful changes. Legislative action in support of our readers may be our only hope.