Yolo County Library

Publisher Boycott

hashtag "e-books for all" is the link to the American Library Association's petition telling Macmillan Publishers that libraries need more access to new e-books.

October 3, 2019

Publisher Boycott press release

Blackstone request letter

Macmillan request letter


On August 1, Blackstone Publishing embargoed eAudiobook titles from purchase by public libraries for three months after their release date.  Yolo County Library joined the Washington Digital Library Consortium’s boycott of Blackstone Publishing’s eAudiobooks for six months in response to this prohibition on library purchases.

On November 1, Macmillan Publishers will launch a library eBook embargo; for the first eight weeks after publication, public libraries are limited to purchasing a single copy of a new eBook. Yolo County Library, along with libraries across the country, is demanding that Macmillan reverse this policy so we can continue to meet readers’ needs. If Macmillan does not remove this restriction, we will boycott Macmillan eBooks for six months, effective November 1. During this time, no new Macmillan eBooks will be added to our digital collection.

Why are we taking this action?

Many publishers now require that libraries purchase eBooks at prices four times higher than what consumers pay. Yolo County Library regularly purchases multiple copies at these inflated prices to meet patron demand. Macmillan and other publishers also require libraries to repurchase an eBook after two years or after it has been borrowed 26 times.

Public libraries have shown a willingness to adapt, compromise and accept such unilateral policy changes as we seek win-win solutions. Macmillan has ignored these good-faith gestures and will now prevent us from buying the eBooks our patrons need when they need them. Their justification for this action is that they lose sales to libraries as customers forego buying and borrow instead. However, studies suggest that libraries are an essential part of the publishing ecosystem that promotes books, reading, and learning.

One study compiled by the Panorama Project showed that 50% of all library users report purchasing books by an author they were introduced to in the library. Patrons “try-out” books at the library and then go back and purchase their favorites for their personal libraries and as gifts.

What do we want to accomplish?

Through collective impact with support from the library community, we are seeking the following outcomes:

  • Blackstone Publishing will stop the embargo of eAudiobooks.
  • Macmillan Publishers will not embargo eBooks on November 1.
  • Other publishers will rethink the premise that libraries will continue to do business with them regardless of the barriers publishers implement.

How will this impact patrons?

Yolo County Library will make patrons aware of our concerns and our actions by sharing boycott information with our traditional media channels, and on our website and social media platforms.

We believe that the boycott is a necessary step to counter increasing costs and limitations on the part of publishers.

We will continue to purchase Blackstone and Macmillan products in other formats that are not impacted by the embargoes.

We will continue to add new eBook and eAudiobook content to the digital collection, choosing items from other publishers.

Previously-published Macmillan eBooks and Blackstone eAudiobooks already in the digital collection will not be affected.

You can help!

Yolo County Library encourages you to stand with us and work toward a more just outcome for the greater reading community.

Encourage your own library system to join this boycott.

Join the thousands of readers around the country who have added their names to a petition launched by the American Library Association at eBooksForAll.org.

Your comments and feedback are welcome.  Please use the form below: