HarperCollins boycott launched over library eBook restrictions

    At the end of February, HarperCollins decided that it would only allow its eBooks to be checked out of libraries 26 times before the license expires. (According to the Atlantic, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, two of the other “big six” traditional publishers, don’t allow eBooks in libraries at all.)

    Nevertheless, a boycott of HarperCollins has been launched by librarians Brett Bonfield and Gabriel Farrell that is getting a lot of attention. Their no-frills website, boycottharpercollins.com, has a very helpful page explaining why they are calling on consumers to not buy any books or eBooks from the company or any of its imprints, which it lists, until this policy is revoked. They also provide a sample letter that you can edit and send to HarperCollins explaining your support for the boycott.

    As Bonfield and Farrell explain:

    Given the pace of digital innovation, there’s a good chance that ebook files libraries purchase today will be obsolete within a few years. For now, libraries have arrangements with publishers and ebook vendors that include some restrictions on ebooks lending, such as two-week loan limits and one-borrower-at-a-time. These restrictions make borrowing or loaning an ebook much like borrowing or loaning a traditional book.


    While circulation limits on ebooks might encourage libraries to buy additional digital copies of some ebooks, that’s just speculation: libraries have limited budgets, especially in the current economy, so there is a good chance that libraries will spend the same amount on ebooks they are already spending but offer less variety because they would have to buy more copies of the most popular items.



    Recent Stories

    • Analysis

    Anti-occupation coalition grows stronger in the face of Israeli military violence

    May 24, 2019

    When diaspora Jews and those living in Israel join with Palestinians, they forge a more powerful and just movement to end the occupation.

    • Column

    Vision is finally on the rise in U.S. politics

    May 21, 2019

    From grassroots movements to presidential hopefuls, the importance of creating visionary plans for change is no longer being ignored.

    • Analysis

    Populist alliances of ‘cowboys and Indians’ are protecting rural lands

    May 17, 2019

    By appealing to the hearts and minds of their white neighbors, Native Americans are carving out common ground and building unity through diversity.