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Library boycotts Macmillan digital content

In response to business practices that create access barriers for library patrons, the Washington Digital Library Consortium — of which Bellingham Public Library is a member — has chosen to boycott purchases of Macmillan Publishers’ eBooks and eAudiobooks now through the end of 2020.

Troubling limits imposed by publishers on public library purchases of digital content are inspiring a strong response from libraries across the country, including boycotts and other advocacy, because pricing and access barriers make it difficult for libraries to fulfill our central mission: ensuring access to information for all.

Beginning November 1, 2019, Macmillan Publishers placed restrictions on sales of newly released eBooks to public libraries, allowing each library system to purchase only a single copy in the first eight weeks of its release. In response to these restrictions, Bellingham Public Library, as part of the Washington Digital Libraries Consortium, is boycotting all digital content published by Macmillan. The boycott began November 1, 2019 and is expected to last through December 31, 2020.

Bellingham Public Library offers eBooks and eAudiobooks through the vendor platform OverDrive. Library patrons may recognize this service under the names Washington Anytime Library, OverDrive, or Libby.

We will continue to purchase Macmillan Publishing’s physical books and audiobooks on CD, as the publisher has imposed no purchasing restrictions on those formats, and we encourage our patrons to borrow newly released titles in one of those formats. If your preferred format is an eBook or eAudiobook, we are happy to recommend other titles you may enjoy in our digital collection, just Ask Us. We will continue to add new titles to our digital collection from other publishers, and previously published titles from Macmillan already in our digital collection will not be affected.

More information

American Library Association #ebooksforall campaign website

List of libraries protesting Macmillan’s embargo on eBooks

Local libraries advocate for readers’ rights after publishers decide to limit ebook access (editorial published locally August 2019)

Bellingham Public Library Ask Us webpage