May 18, 2022

ALA President Reports on Recent Meeting With Publishers + Comments from Publishers About Talks

First, comments from ALA President, Molly Raphael. Then, a few comments from INFOdocket. Finally, a report from LJ with comments from the publishers who were at the meeting.

From an American Libraries Post from ALA President, Molly Raphael:

As recently reported, I led an ALA delegation to New York last week to meet separately with Penguin, Macmillan, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Perseus. The publisher representatives at these meetings included CEOs, division presidents, and other executives. We had frank discussions related to library ebook lending and are appreciative of the serious engagement by these publishers. Many of the meetings extended for a longer time than scheduled, and all ended with the expectation of a continuing dialogue between each publisher and ALA.
It was agreed that we—publishers, libraries, intermediaries, and others—operate in an ecosystem that is experiencing profound change. At the same time, a thorough understanding of the ecosystem backed by reliable data is not readily available, and deserves increased attention from ALA and others.

The biggest lesson is that there is nothing like direct communication.


Of course much has changed in the past few years—and all indications are that the evolution of the ebook format in particular (and the medium of e-content in general) will continue or even accelerate in the coming years. While publishers and libraries share a common mission to bring authors and readers together, it is also clear that we have some goals that diverge. It is these differences that lead to varying views in the library and publishing worlds of business models and overall short- and long-term strategies.

The biggest lesson is that there is nothing like direct communication.

Read the Complete Blog Post by ALA President, Molly Raphael

Quick Comments from INFOdocket:

1. A big thumbs up on pointing out the power of direct communication. E-mail, texts, webinars, and social media can be useful but face-to-face is still essential.

2. While we’re happy to see ALA communicating with publishers we continue to wonder what took so long? Why wasn’t a dialog and relationship building with publishers about ebooks going on for years. Where was the direct communication?

Ebook technology didn’t magically appear overnight. Why wasn’t ALA proactive on the issue a long time ago not only with publishers but also with aggregators. Have they or do they have plans to sit down with OverDrive, ebrary, 3M, and others?

Why hasn’t ALA been formally studying ebook usage so they could share their findings over many years with publishers? In this case the cliche would have been accurate, data would have been power?

Hopefully, ALA is now on the right track but how can we avoid something similar in the future?

3. Speaking of OverDrive, has ALA talked with the them since Kindle access became available last September? As we noted in a post when the program launched, the privacy one expects when borrowing a book from a public library is tossed out the window when borrowing a Kindle title via OverDrive.

Why can’t OverDrive provide notice to users that the privacy that they expect from a library is not the same as what offers? What will the reaction be if Amazon has a data breach (it can happen, ask Zappos). What’s wrong with being upfront and honest?

UPDATE: Simon & Schuster, Macmillan Express Concerns About Library Ebook Lending After ‘Positive’ Talks with ALA (by Mike Kelley, Library Journal)

We haven’t found a business model that works for us or our authors,” said Michelle Fadlalla, the director of library marketing at Simon & Schuster. “No vendor has come in with the right solution for us,” she said.

Fadlalla was among a contingent of Simon & Schuster executives, including Carolyn Reidy, the company’s president and CEO, who met recently with ALA officials in New York. The ALA contingent also met with Random House, Macmillan, Penguin, and Perseus.


Macmillan executives expressed to ALA their concerns about elending and “its ramifications on the future of our business,” according to Alison Lazarus, the president of sales for Macmillan.


Lazarus described the meeting as open and productive and she, along with John Sargent, Macmillan’s CEO, and Talia Sherer, the director of library marketing, discussed with the ALA contingent several new models that “might make lending possible,” and they agreed to continue talking with each other. Lazarus said the company expressed its “absolute support and appreciation” for what libraries do for the company’s books and authors.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.