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Local Libraries Join Others In Boycotting Publisher

Nearly 70 public libraries in Utah including those in the Wasatch Back have joined a boycott of a publisher distributor.

The 69 library members of the Utah’s Online Public Library Overdrive Consortium began the boycott of Macmillan publisher in November after the consortium’s committee members voted to move forward with the boycott. Members of the group include Wasatch and Summit Counties library system as well as Park City Library.  

Summit County Library Director Dan Compton explains the boycott is in connection to a change in how Macmillan sells their eBooks to libraries.

“So, if we purchase one of their titles that was published after November 1st, each library can only purchase one copy,” Compton explained. “It's good for the first eight weeks and then after that you can buy more copies, but they increase the price dramatically. Now, also as part of this if we buy a copy, we cannot share it with other libraries in the consortium. It kind of goes against what the consortium is. None of us can purchase all of the titles that we need and so we rely on the consortium to be able to offer a wide variety of titles. Because Macmillan is not letting us share those titles we decided to go ahead and join a ton of other libraries across the country and boycott those eBook titles.”

Compton says the libraries will still purchase print and audio book titles from MacMillan during the boycott. He suspects that the publishers are concerned that the growth of the library market is cutting into the publishers’ sales.

“They’re kind of testing the waters here to see if they do that, if people will look at this long hold line that they're in and say you know I'm just going to go and purchase that title,” Compton said.
“But it really hurts our communities. There's a lot of people that cannot forward to buy all of their books. Also, the eBooks are more accessible. If people have an Ereader they can make it into a large print book just with the click of a button so that's a big deal to us. So, those are just a couple of the things that bothered us and we think the whole publishing world is kind of looking in on this situation and seeing what libraries do. So, the American Library Association is getting involved, Congress is getting involved, it's a big deal.”

Park City Library Director Adriane Juarez says that there are still plenty of eBook titles available on Overdrive, and that leaders of the American Library Association and Macmillan will be meeting soon. Juarez pointed to some of the benefits of the expansion of digital mediums.

“Well it really lets us bolster our collection,” Juarez continued.
“We have not reduced the number of print copies of books that we buy. We absolutely love that medium, but it gives us another option. So, that we can allow people like Dan said if you need large print you can increase the print size on the screen. If you like audio you can listen to books, and I know a lot of people do that while they do the dishes or other things so they can keep up with their reading. There's a lot of ways we can serve and it's just a broader information environment.”

Juarez says those interested in expressing their support of the libraries boycott can sign a petition here.

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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