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America’s authors stand with libraries

Our nation’s authors and libraries have a special relationship. Authors are readers, and many of us began our love affair with reading in our local libraries. We have relied on libraries to grow our craft, help us check our facts, and provide access to a diverse cultural record. Library lending encourages people of all ages to experiment and sample new authors, topics, and genres—stimulating the market for books. Libraries ensure access to information for all, making our democratic ideals a reality.

Just as many of us found our avocation in the “stacks,” we hope others will now find our work among these treasured tales on libraries’ physical and virtual bookshelves. Unfortunately, the transition from print to digital formats is disrupting our valued relationship with libraries and readers.

As a result, reader access to our work through libraries is dramatically restricted. Many ebooks are not available to most libraries at any price. When allowed by publishers to purchase them, the library price is often 150–500% more than the consumer price—forcing libraries to purchase fewer copies for readers. These restrictions hurt discovery, reading choice, literacy and the simple joy of reading. Ebook restrictions severely limit new authors from finding audiences and eager readers from finding new content.  Writers, readers and librarians cannot afford to have this critical situation continue.

Literature and knowledge—in all their forms—are essential. Access to them through libraries must not be denied. We believe:

  • All published works must be available for libraries to purchase and lend to library users.
  • Access to and use of ebooks must equitably balance the rights and privileges of readers, authors, and publishers.
  • Digital content must be accessible to all people, regardless of physical or reading disabilities.
  • Pricing models must be reasonable and flexible.
  • Library patrons must be able to access digital content on the device of their choosing.
  • Reading records must remain private in the Digital Age.

Together, the American Library Association and authors call for meaningful change and creative solutions that will serve readers who rightfully expect at least the same access to ebooks as they have to printed books in our nation’s libraries.

 

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