Modified: November 14, 2019 1:35pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz today added his signature to the Urban Libraries Council’s statement on equitable public access to e-books, joining eighty other municipal leaders from across the United States and twenty-five from Canada in calling on book publishers to institute fair and equitable e-book/audiobook access and pricing for public libraries. Unfair and restrictive pricing policies for e-books and audiobooks from the “Big 5” publishers (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster), sometimes charging libraries as much as five times the consumer price, deny access to e-books for millions of Americans and prevent public libraries from fulfilling their mission of universal access to information. E-content restrictions also impact people who rely on public libraries the most, particularly individuals with limited incomes and those with disabilities.
“Public libraries represent the values of cooperation and sharing by offering resources to all residents – regardless of income, race, gender, age or ability – that can inform and entertain,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Providing access to e-books and other digital learning materials at local libraries ensures that everyone in Erie County has equal access to valuable tools and further advances my belief that public libraries are community assets that produce economic benefits to our community.”
The Urban Libraries Council, a leading advocate for North America’s public libraries, notes that libraries lend e-content to readers on a one-copy-per-user basis, just like print books. However, libraries pay much more than individual readers for e-books and e-audiobooks — a disparity that has no precedent in historical library pricing for physical books. Libraries pay more than retail for access to e-books and downloadable audio with costs up to $79.99 for one copy for a bestselling fiction title and access to the books generally expires after 24 months or 52 checkouts.
Macmillan Publishers in particular is driving inequity through its embargo policy for libraries, which began on November 1, 2019. With this policy, libraries of all sizes are only able to purchase one license to newly released e-books titles for the first eight weeks.
For more information:
On digital content and access challenges at public libraries, click here .
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