spot_img

An Open Letter to American Publishers from the American Library Association

The following open letter was released by American Library Association (ALA) President Maureen Sullivan regarding Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin refusal to provide access to their e-books in U.S. libraries.
It’s a rare thing in a free market when a customer is refused the ability to buy a company’s product and is told its money is “no good here.” Surprisingly, after centuries of enthusiastically supporting publishers’ products, libraries find themselves in just that position with purchasing e-books from three of the largest publishers in the world. Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin have been denying access to their e-books for our nation’s 112,000 libraries and roughly 169 million public library users.

Let’s be clear on what this means: If our libraries’ digital bookshelves mirrored the New York Times fiction best-seller list, we would be missing half of our collection any given week due to these publishers’ policies. The popular “Bared to You” and “The Glass Castle” are not available in libraries because libraries cannot purchase them at any price. Today’s teens also will not find the digital copy of Judy Blume’s seminal “Forever,” nor today’s blockbuster “Hunger Games” series.

Not all publishers are following the path of these three publishers. In fact, hundreds of publishers of e-books have embraced the opportunity to create new sales and reach readers through our nation’s libraries. One recent innovation allows library patrons to immediately purchase an e-book if the library doesn’t have a copy or if there is a wait list they would like to avoid. This offers a win-win relationship for both publishers and library users since recent research from the Pew Internet Project tells us that library users are more than twice as likely to have bought their most recent book as to have borrowed it from a library.

Libraries around the country are developing mobile applications and online discovery systems that make it easier to explore books and authors on the go. Seventy-six percent of public libraries now offer e-books — double the number from only five years ago — and 39 percent of libraries have purchased and circulate e-readers. Public libraries alone spend more than $1.3 billion annually on their collections of print, audio, video, and electronic materials. They are investing not only in access to content and devices, but also in teaching the skills needed to navigate and utilize digital content successfully.

Librarians understand that publishing is not just another industry. It has special and important significance to society. Libraries complement and, in fact, actively support this industry by supporting literacy and seeking to spread an infectious and lifelong love of reading and learning. Library lending encourages patrons to experiment by sampling new authors, topics and genres. This experimentation stimulates the market for books, with the library serving as a de facto discovery, promotion and awareness service for authors and publishers.

Publishers, libraries and other entities have worked together for centuries to sustain a healthy reading ecosystem — celebrating our society’s access to the complete marketplace of ideas. Given the obvious value of libraries to publishers, it simply does not add up that any publisher would continue to lock out libraries. It doesn’t add up for me, it doesn’t add up for ALA’s 60,000 members, and it definitely doesn’t add up for the millions of people who use our libraries every month.

America’s libraries have always served as the “people’s university” by providing access to reading materials and educational opportunity for the millions who want to read and learn but cannot afford to buy the books they need. Librarians have a particular concern for vulnerable populations that may not have any other access to books and electronic content, including individuals and families who are homebound or low-income. To deny these library users access to e-books that are available to others — and which libraries are eager to purchase on their behalf — is discriminatory.

We have met and talked sincerely with many of these publishers. We have sought common ground by exploring new business models and library lending practices. But these conversations only matter if they are followed by action: Simon & Schuster must sell to libraries. Macmillan must implement its proposed pilot. Penguin must accelerate and expand its pilots beyond two urban New York libraries.

We librarians cannot stand by and do nothing while some publishers deepen the digital divide. We cannot wait passively while some publishers deny access to our cultural record. We must speak out on behalf of today’s — and tomorrow’s — readers.The library community demands meaningful change and creative solutions that serve libraries and our readers who rightfully expect the same access to e-books as they have to printed books.

So, which side will you be on? Will you join us in a future of liberating literature for all? Libraries stand with readers, thinkers, writers, dreamers and inventors. Books and knowledge — in all their forms — are essential. Access to them must not be denied.

Similar Articles

Comments

FOLLOW US

2,023FansLike
3,108FollowersFollow
10,500SubscribersSubscribe

Recent Book Trailers

Instagram

Advertismentspot_img

Don't Miss

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

0
There's a Book for That: Hispanic Heritage Month Welcome to Hispanic Heritage Month which runs from September 15 through October 15. Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots...

ZONDERKIDZ ANNOUNCES NEW PODCAST

0
The Jesus Storybook Bible Podcast premieres September 23 with guests Amy Grant and Bishop Michael Curry Zonderkidz is pleased to announce that New York Times bestselling author Sally...

SNEAK PEEK: STRENGTH UNDER FIRE BY LINDSAY MCKENNA

0
STRENGTH UNDER FIRE BY LINDSAY MCKENNA New York Times bestselling author Lindsay McKenna returns to Silver Creek, Wyoming, where a Black Ops veteran  finds the...

Ellen DeGeneres’s Picture Book Coming May 2022

0
Ellen DeGeneres's Picture Book LITTLE ELLEN Coming From RHCB in May 2022 Emmy Award–winning talk show host, comedian, actress, and entertainment pioneer Ellen DeGeneres will publish a...

National Book Foundation to Present Lifetime Achievement Award to Karen Tei Yamashita

0
National Book Foundation to Present Lifetime Achievement Award to Karen Tei Yamashita The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, today announced that...

SNEAK PEEK: THE COMMODORE’S GIFT BY MANDY EVE BARNETT

0
THE COMMODORE’S GIFT BY MANDY EVE BARNETT Fighting against society’s feminine expectations, Owena’s excellent strategic and swordsmanship skills come to the fore after an attack...

SNEAK PEEK: DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS BY HEATHER GRAHAM

0
DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS BY HEATHER GRAHAM I didn’t do it. Those are the words Ann Marcel’s ex-husband, Jon, mutters the day he staggers through her...

Fall Cozy Mysteries Coming Soon!

0
Halloween Party Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross Small town traditions are celebrated throughout Maine during the holiday season. But when it comes to Halloween, some people...

BOOK REVIEW: “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham

0
 “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham Five years after Jake Brigance defended Carl Lee in “A Time to Kill” and 2 years after Jake...

PODCAST::: Choose Me with NYT Best Seller Tess Gerritsen & Gary Braver on Book...

0
Choose Me with NYT Best Seller Tess Gerritsen & Gary Braver on Book Lights LISTEN HERE! Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to...