Major publisher puts sharp limits on libraries lending new eBooks

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Beginning November 1, Macmillan Publishers is putting a one-copy limit on new eBooks libraries can lend at a time. That means people who want to check them out will have to wait in line.

"Basically, with their new rules, for the first eight weeks of a book's life, we're only going to have one license," said Wichita Public Libraries spokesperson Sean Jones. "So that's going to grow out our whole list pretty long."

Jones said people might have to wait longer, but the library does have other options.

"On the flip side, we typically do purchase multiple physical copies, a large-print edition, and an audiobook," Jones said. "So, people have that opportunity or option to check those out, as well."

An author KAKE News spoke with in Wichita, Arthur Walker, said he thinks eBooks and libraries are important to the community.

"A thriving democracy is not going to succeed without the free flowing of knowledge," Walker said. "I think that libraries in the United States serve the under-served and serve vulnerable populations that may not otherwise have access to that knowledge and that media."

Walker publishes his own eBooks and physical books through Amazon. He disagrees with Macmillan's decision to limit libraries' access to eBook licenses.

"Trying to contrive that demand by constraining supply is idiotic," Walker said. "It's what happens when you let marketing people tell you how to run your business."

Macmillan is known for its educational content, but it also publishes best-selling novels.

"One of their biggest authors is Nora Roberts," Jones said. "And she's super popular. Her books always check out as soon as we get them."

Now, library patrons will have to wait longer to check out those books. Walker said if people want change, they should ask their local government to step in.

"Politely ask or legislate in such a way that Macmillan is encouraged to clarify their rules, in a way that will serve the public in a more holistic and democratic way," Walker said.

If you want to check out eBooks through the Wichita Public Library, all you need is a library card in good standing and the "Overdrive" app.

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