Charleston Co. Public Libraries leading charge in S.C. against top publishing company

VIDEO: Charleston Co. Public Libraries leading charge in S.C. against top publishing company

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Right now, about 60 percent of libraries across the nation are boycotting one of the top five publishing companies and the Charleston County Public Library is leading the charge in South Carolina.

The movement started when Macmillan Publisher implemented an embargo on library e-book purchases that prevent libraries of any size from purchasing more than one copy of a newly released e-book for the first eight weeks after publication in order to increase sales.

The Charleston County Public Library, or CCPL, was the first in South Carolina to boycott Macmillan with more than e-book purchasing, but also print materials.

CCPL’s Executive Director, Angela Craig said CCPL opposes any effort to restrict or delay their ability to provide the public with free and equitable access to information and services.

“We ask our patrons to be patient and understand that we are operating in their best interest,” Craig said. “We believe a short-lived inconvenience is worth a potential long-term gain. This embargo by Macmillan sets a dangerous precedent, which could result in influencing other publishers and we must take a stand now before it’s too late.”

Macmillan believes that every eBook checked out from a library is a lost sale and that eBook lending hurts the bottom line. In his memo announcing the embargo, Macmillan's CEO accused libraries of "cannibalizing" sales and actively "marketing… to turn purchasers in to borrowers."

The boycott is planned for 12 weeks. There are now 22 public libraries in South Carolina that are boycotting Macmillan.

“We are going to, as library directors, reconvene in January to talk about next steps if we want to continue the boycott or if we want to talk about ending it,” Craig said.

There is a petition called #EBooksForAll going around. As of Wednesday, the petition has more than 229,000 signatures.

Georgetown County Public Library has also joined the boycott.

Library Director, Dwight McInvaill, said libraries pay up to five times more for e-books. After a certain number of uses, McInvaill says libraries also have to repurchase the book.

“My apologies to my patrons,” McInvaill said. “I want them to have access to everything. But I think the libraries need to make a point because, if we don’t, then the other four major publishing companies may follow suit and where would we be then?”

Dorchester County Libraries have not responded to our request for comment.

Officials at the Berkeley County Public Library say, at this time, they are not boycotting Macmillan.

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