KCLS libraries are boycotting Macmillan eBooks. KCLS is no longer buying Macmillan eBooks as of Nov. 1. Photo courtesy of KCLS Facebook

KCLS libraries are boycotting Macmillan eBooks. KCLS is no longer buying Macmillan eBooks as of Nov. 1. Photo courtesy of KCLS Facebook

King County Library System boycotts Macmillan eBooks

The KCLS boycott began Nov. 1.

The King County Library System (KCLS) is no longer purchasing newly released eBooks from Macmillan Publishers. The boycott began Nov. 1.

Macmillan, one of five major publishers in the United States recently announced a new lending model that restricts public libraries to only one copy of newly released eBooks for the first eight weeks of publication.

For KCLS, the announcement was especially troubling. KCLS has 50 libraries in its system and serves more than one million residents. With the new lending model, this means only one digital copy can be shared among the 50 libraries.

The decision came after months of discussion and advocacy to urge Macmillan to reconsider instituting a new library eBook embargo.

KCLS executive director Lisa Rosenblum previously stated that if KCLS had been limited to only one digital copy of high-demand titles like “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, and then had to wait eight weeks before being able to purchase, the impact would be “dramatic.” She said patrons could wait years rather than months for their eBook.

In a press release, Rosenblum said digital equity and access to information is at stake. Rosenblum said KCLS’s central mission is to provide free and equal access to information.

According to Rakutekn OverDrive, KCLS patrons downloaded nearly five million eBooks and audiobooks last year. KCLS has been the top digital-circulation library in the United States for the last five years and third worldwide, so the new embargo hits King County patrons hard.

Many KCLS patrons had reacted positively to KCLS’s decision to boycott Macmillan.

Comments on Facebook included people writing, “Thank you for standing firm! Love my KCLS!” and “We got your back.”

One commenter added that she supported KCLS’s as she is disabled and visiting the library frequently is difficult or impossible. “eBooks have been life changing. They provide accessibility to the disabled, the shut in, and children too young to go alone,” read the comment.

Since the boycott, KCLS spokesperson Sarah Thomas said several other library systems have joined in the boycott as well.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

King County assessor wants Legislature to fix laws to help small businesses

Changes needed because of COVID-19 impact on commercial properties

King County could be in Phase 2 in two weeks

The county is also hoping the state lets them reopen several businesses by Friday.

Exterior Kirkland City Hall. Blake Peterson/staff photo
City: Businesses in downtown, other commercial areas encouraged to remain closed through June 2

Update: Phase 1 businesses are now encouraged to reopen but remain vigilant.

Downtown Kirkland. Staff photo/Blake Peterson
Update: Kirkland officials strongly encouraging residents to stay out of downtown area, waterfront parks after 1 p.m.

The recommendations are in response to a potential protest in Downtown Kirkland at 2 p.m.

Businesses asked to close by 1 p.m., visitors to avoid commercial shopping areas

The City of Kirkland states it has received reports of being a possible target for looting

Downtown Kirkland. Blake Peterson/staff photo
How is COVID-19 impacting Kirkland?

King County has released city-specific data on case rates, unemployment filings and more.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant on March 23. File photo
New guidelines for Phase 2 reopenings in King County

All workers will need to wear masks as restaurants, retail shops and other businesses reopen.

This undated file photo provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows CDC’s laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus. Courtesy photo
Inslee wants nursing home residents and staff tested by June 12

Governor says state will pay for test kits and personal protective equipment.

Most Read