King County Library System boycotts Macmillan eBooks

Publisher’s policy limits 50 libraries to one checkout. The KCLS boycott began Nov. 1.

The King County Library System (KCLS) is no longer purchasing newly-released eBooks from Macmillan Publishers. The boycott began Nov. 1.

Macmillan, one of five major publishers in the United States, recently announced a new lending model that restricts public libraries to only one copy of newly released eBooks for the first eight weeks of publication.

For KCLS, the announcement was especially troubling. KCLS has 50 libraries in its system and serves more than 1 million residents. With the new lending model, that means only one digital copy can be shared between the 50 libraries.

The decision came after months of discussion and advocacy to urge Macmillan to reconsider instituting a new library eBook embargo.

KCLS executive director Lisa Rosenblum previously stated that if KCLS had been limited to only one digital copy of high-demand titles like “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, and then had to wait eight weeks before being able to purchase, the impact would be “dramatic.” She said patrons could wait years rather than months for their eBook.

In a press release, Lisa Rosenblum said digital equity and access to information is at stake. Rosenblum said KCLS’s central mission is to provide free and equal access to information.

According to Rakuten OverDrive, KCLS patrons downloaded nearly 5 million eBooks and audiobooks last year. KCLS has been the top digital-circulation library in the United States for the last five years and third worldwide, so the new embargo hits King County patrons hard.

Many KCLS patrons had reacted positively to KCLS’s decision to boycott Macmillan.

Comments on Facebook said, “Thank you for standing firm! Love my KCLS!” and “We got your back.”

One commenter added that she supported KCLS’s position as she is disabled and visiting the library frequently is difficult or impossible.

“EBooks have been life changing. They provide accessibility to the disabled, the shut in, and children too young to go alone” the commenter wrote.

Since the boycott, KCLS spokesperson Sarah Thomas said several libraries have joined in the boycott as well.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s press conference on Aug. 5, 2020.
Inslee says schools in virus hot spots should stay closed

King County among high-risk counties; several school districts will have remote learning in the fall.

King County Election headquarters in Renton on Aug. 4 for the primary election. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Inslee and Culp lead governor race; incumbent Dems ahead for Congress | Statewide results

Early results for governor, state schools chief, attorney general and more.

Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue.
Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue charge renewal is passing

The Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue benefit charge is passing with 100%… Continue reading

Democrats dominate King County legislative races | Election results

Here are the latest results for King County legislative candidates in the… Continue reading

Vote election badge. File photo
5th District results: Ramos leads House race; Anderson edging Mullett for state Senate

Early results have been reported in the 5th Legislative District races from… Continue reading

Developer hopes to build marijuana store in North Bend

A public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13 on the proposed store and zoning change.

Snoqualmie Valley School District will be entirely online this fall

The school board approved the move amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases in King County.

Did Republicans give up on the 5th District?

The sole Republican candidate has raised only $3,100.

Primary election 2020: Who will emerge as Inslee’s challenger?

Voting ends Tuesday in an election without big rallies and fund-raisers and face-to-face debates

Most Read