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Library boycott of Macmillan - results
#1  fjtorres 01-20-2020, 11:23 AM
After two months of libraries boycotting MacMillan ebooks, some early numbers are emerging:

http://www.readersfirst.org/news/2020/1/16/is-the-macmillan-boycott-working

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Is the Boycott Working?

As of the date of publication, 79 library systems and consortia have ceased to purchase Macmillan eBooks in protest of their new sales policy, which limits library eLending. These libraries represent 1,163 locations in 28 states, and serve 47.9 million people, which is equivalent to the total population of California plus the population of New York City.

Is it making a difference?

Analysis shows that despite Macmillan’s claims about desiring to “restore balance,” the embargo is merely an attempt by Macmillan to boost revenue in the same way that they increased their base price to libraries from $40.00 to $60.00 in 2018. Here’s how it works:

Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers was released in November 2018. At Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) which serves 1.1 million residents in northern Virginia, 400 readers requested the book before its release; in response, FCPL purchased 67 copies at $60.00 each. Adjusting for OverDrive’s negotiated percentage, Macmillan earned $2010.00.

What if Nine Perfect Strangers had been released in November 2019? According to Macmillan, 8%, or 32, of the 400 readers who wanted the book would have purchased it rather than waiting. These 32 retail purchases will have generated $336.00. After the embargo, the library purchases 62 copies to cover the remaining 368 readers who were willing to wait. At Macmillan’s new pricing, this creates $1845.00 in revenue for the company. In total, they receive $2181.00, which is an 8.5% increase over a release that was not embargoed.

However, FCPL has ceased to purchase Macmillan eBooks and Macmillan has traded $336.00 in retail sales for $2010.00 in library sales, a loss of 83%.

In other words, the boycotting libraries are making a difference, creating an 83% loss in revenue instead of an 8.5% gain. If about one in 10 library systems cease to purchase Macmillan eBooks, they will offset the gains Macmillan hoped to make and ensure that its revenue is flat. For every library that boycotts after that, Macmillan will see a net loss on the embargo strategy.

Are we at one in 10?

Not quite, although we are close. In the 2017 IMLS Public Library Survey, 7162 libraries recorded spending on electronic materials. Of those, 605 libraries are currently boycotting Macmillan eBooks, or 8.45%.

Other impacts to Macmillan authors

In the meantime, we are looking at the results of the boycott to determine impact to patrons. At the Washington Digital Library Consortium (WDLC), serving 826,000 Washington State residents, we saw that circulation in the last two months of the year (during the boycott) fell only 2% below expectation. Since Macmillan represented approximately 5% of our circulation in the prior year, we conclude that readers who normally would have discovered Macmillan books are discovering Macmillan’s competitor authors instead. FCPL saw no decrease in circulation over the same time period.

These numbers are in line with the findings of a library eBook reader survey conducted the Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock, WA. When patrons were asked about their next step after deciding not to place a hold on an eBook (usually due to wait time), the 891 respondants reported the following: 56% reported that they went on to look for another eBook or eAudiobook that is currently available; approximately 30% reported that they searched for the title in print or as a book-on-CD; 8% go on to purchase the title (confirming Macmillan's assertion); 6% chose "None of the above.”
8.45% of libraries are boycotting.
So 90% are going along with MacMillan.

On a library by library basis they seem to be having an impact but globally...?

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#2  pwalker8 01-20-2020, 12:09 PM
Quote fjtorres
After two months of libraries boycotting MacMillan ebooks, some early numbers are emerging:

http://www.readersfirst.org/news/2020/1/16/is-the-macmillan-boycott-working



8.45% of libraries are boycotting.
So 90% are going along with MacMillan.

On a library by library basis they seem to be having an impact but globally...?
So, when you don't have any real stats you make them up. Seriously, someone is very desperate to say "see, we are hurting that evil publisher", yea I don't have any real stats, but my back of the envelop estimate says we cost them $2000 in lost sales to libraries.
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#3  MGlitch 01-20-2020, 12:53 PM
I might be wrong but isn’t it also a bit of wishful thinking that the relative unchanged circulation means patrons are moving from Macmillan authors to other publishers authors as a result of the boycott?

1) there’s no data showing they weren’t aware of those authors before the boycott and read them.

2) as far as I’m aware circulation just means books getting checked out. No libraries have purged Macmillan ebooks so it’s possible backstock isn’t getting checked out

3) for that matter is ‘circulation’ in this case strictly limited to ebook check outs or is it all check outs.

All in all this reads as a kid being proud it got a drop of honey out of a 5 gallon container.
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#4  leebase 01-20-2020, 02:57 PM
2% below expectation. Expectation could be anything.

But...here has been a 2% drop in the use of the library. Are we sure it’s McMillan being hurt?
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#5  MGlitch 01-20-2020, 03:28 PM
Quote leebase
2% below expectation. Expectation could be anything.

But...here has been a 2% drop in the use of the library. Are we sure it’s McMillan being hurt?
Expectations could also have been adjusted post the decision.

One other thing, I'm not seeing any data on sales of Macmillan novels to the public being mentioned here. Just circulation in a given library in a given time period. Which really big surprise, library patrons are still using the library because readers aren't beholden to a publisher they are in it for the books.

All this news has done is really confirm for me that Macmillan was right, the single copy of their ebooks being available for the first 8 weeks wouldn't have a massively negative affect on the libraries.
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#6  fjtorres 01-20-2020, 05:06 PM
Quote MGlitch

All this news has done is really confirm for me that Macmillan was right, the single copy of their ebooks being available for the first 8 weeks wouldn't have a massively negative affect on the libraries.
Maybe it means 92% of library systems don't care enough about ebook availability to boycott?
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#7  pwalker8 01-20-2020, 07:05 PM
Quote MGlitch
Expectations could also have been adjusted post the decision.

One other thing, I'm not seeing any data on sales of Macmillan novels to the public being mentioned here. Just circulation in a given library in a given time period. Which really big surprise, library patrons are still using the library because readers aren't beholden to a publisher they are in it for the books.

All this news has done is really confirm for me that Macmillan was right, the single copy of their ebooks being available for the first 8 weeks wouldn't have a massively negative affect on the libraries.
Naturally, the only people who have real data on Macmillian books is Macmillian and their parent company.
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#8  Tomk2 01-21-2020, 01:52 PM
I wonder if new issues of library cards are up at non- boycotting libraries. The 92% of ebook borrowers that are determined to borrow instead of buy are resourceful.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
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#9  MGlitch 01-21-2020, 04:44 PM
Quote pwalker8
Naturally, the only people who have real data on Macmillian books is Macmillian and their parent company.
For hard figures sure, but most of the figures we’ve seen in this article are soft and nebulous.
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#10  Paperbackstash 01-22-2020, 10:25 AM
Besides news articles and twitter tags, it may not make much difference. A lot of libraries still haven't invested much into expanding digitally as much as many seem to assume. Mine, for example. It's across a large county but I rarely find books on there I want to read in a digital format. Same for a friend, so we don't even check most of the time anymore. Florida does not let me borrow from other counties digitally either, I've tried, so I ended up mainly relying on subscription services for the time being.

If a lot of place are also like this, I'm not going to see it making much difference, especially if those libraries don't bother joining the boycott
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