Blackstone Boycott: Week 5 Update

Two interesting developments have occurred this past week in the WCLS-sponsored boycott of Blackstone Audio.

First, ILS Administrator Carmi Parker spoke with a reporter from the New York Times for an upcoming “article about the increasing eBook restrictions from publishers.” Obviously, we need to wait to see what the article says before commenting. If it is simply informative and balanced, however, it will be good news for libraries. The publishers have their side, of course, but we also have compelling arguments for the public good. The more those arguments are noted, the better, and the NYT is a good place to see them. Thanks, Carmi!

Second, a Blackstone sales representative has visited 13 of the area libraries to talk. He promised to bring four points back to Blackstone:

  • If the embargo is successful and the title becomes popular, will Blackstone extend the 90 day embargo period. Is it open ended based on popularity?

  • If the embargo is successful will Blackstone add 1st tier authors and titles?

  • We would like a statement from the CEO/CFO about this 90 day hold with reassurances that this embargo was not intended to limit access to patrons but rather to increase popularity of lesser known titles in the vast audio-book marketplace.

  • They would like a list of the titles that will be embargoed.

RF will continue to provide news of the boycott and encourages libraries to follow it or even to join in. One way, as Carmi has noted, is to cancel your Blackstone standing order list. It will be more work to select titles individually, but you could send a message and, if you so choose, blacklist boycotted titles.

Ignoring for the moment the implausible argument that embargoing a title in libraries is surely not a way to get it noticed—why not give us a list of such titles and see what we might license and promote?—some credit is due to Blackstone. They are at least talking with libraries, which is more than we can say for Macmillan, which releases dubious figures without any backing data and stiff-arms all attempts at conversation. Two cheers for you, Blackstone, with thanks for taking. Three cheers when you give us multiple licensing options and work with us to end the embargoes while ensuring a fair deal for lesser known authors. What will it take? Let’s talk!