UPDATED POST: Coverage From Andrew Albanese / Publishers Weekly: ALA Midwinter 2020: Macmillan CEO John Sargent, Librarians Spar Over E-Book Embargo
I am currently attending the American Library Association Midwinter conference in Philadelphia. This morning I sat in on a meeting with Mr. John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan Publishing and a room full of librarians in various states of anger and frustration. The reason for their ire is Macmillan’s policy, which went into effect in November, to embargo (Macmillan calls it windowing) the sale of new e-book titles to libraries following publication.
In today’s meeting he divulged that 55% of “reads” of e-books are by library borrowers. And, most importantly, he acknowledged that eight weeks into this model, the data indicated that Macmillan was losing money on e-book sales. Mr. Sargent was quick to say that he expected that the next eight weeks would be critical.
Librarians have indicated a willingness to discuss with Macmillan other models that would be more profitable for the company and more agreeable to libraries. I think it is too early for that. Let’s see what happens.