New Orleans Public Library Joins National Action Against Macmillan e-Books

Photo courtesy of NOPL

On November 1, 2019, the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) announced that they will join other library systems across the country in boycotting ebooks from Macmillian Publishers, one of the largest major publishers in the U.S.

The action comes as a result of a library ebook embargo enacted by Macmillian. Under the company’s new policy, public libraries are only allowed to purchase a single copy of a newly released ebook for the first eight weeks the book is in publication. The policy is applied unilaterally, regardless of the library system’s size or demand.

NOPL currently maintains a “Holds to Copy” ratio of 3-t0-1. That is, for every three holds on an ebook title, NOPL purchases one copy in order to minimize wait times for library patrons. Due to higher demand for new and popular titles, if NOPL is restricted to purchasing only one copy of each new title and is forced to wait eight weeks before purchasing more, library patrons could conceivably end up waiting months or even years before they could check out their ebook.

“Macmillian’s new policy seems to support a mindset that only those who are able and willing to pay for their literature and information deserve to have equitable and timely access,” said NOPL Interim Executive Director Jessica Styons in a press release. “This embargo directly contradicts many of NOPL’s core values including Access, Customer Service, and Intellectual Freedom.”

In 2018, NOPL loaned over 337,000 ebooks and audiobooks – a 49.1 percent increase over 2017. In order to best serve the growing demand of library patrons, NOPL will use its ebook funds to purchase titles from publishers who are willing to sell to libraries without embargoes. However, they will continue to purchase Macmillian titles that are not embargoed.

For more information on the embargo and the national action against Macmillian, and to learn how you can help encourage Macmillian Publishers to end their embargo, visit

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