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Going Back in Time

Recently, Tor, a top publisher of science fiction and fantasy books and a division of Macmillan, made a surprise announcement regarding a change in their eBook licensing model for libraries. Effective immediately, libraries will no longer be able to purchase eBook copies of new Tor titles until four months after their on-sale date.

What does that mean for you? When John Scalzi publishes the next entry in his Lock In series, or there is a new title in The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, or Brandon Sanderson’s popular Stormlight Archive saga, you won’t be able to borrow the eBook until at least four months after they are available for purchase.

Unfortunately, this is a return to the more restrictive library lending models of the past. Macmillan’s statement indicates their reason for this change is to “test… the impact of eLending on retail sales” and expresses concern that library lending has had an adverse impact on those sales.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh feels strongly that providing access to a robust, diverse, and current catalog of ebooks is the best way to support readers, writers, and publishers.  Libraries are a primary method by which readers discover new titles and authors.  Indeed, there is evidence that library users are more likely to be book buyers.

As a signatory and participant of ReadersFirst, a coalition of libraries dedicated to promoting the interests of library eBook readers, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will continue to advocate for improved access to eBooks on behalf of our customers.

We encourage you to share your comments or concerns with Tor/Macmillan directly by emailing

The full statement from Macmillan:

“Tor Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers and a leading global publisher of science fiction and fantasy will be changing our eBook lending model to libraries as part of a test program to determine the impact of eLending on retail sales. Our current analysis on eLending indicates it is having a direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales.

Effective with July 2018 publications, all new titles from Tor Books will become available for library eBook distribution four months after their retail on-sale date rather than the current program which allows libraries to purchase the titles on their retail on-sale date. During the test period, we will work closely with our library vendors who service this channel to evaluate the results and develop ongoing terms that will best support Tor’s authors, their agents, and Tor’s channel partners.

In addition, Macmillan will actively participate in the recently launched “Panorama Project,” the first large-scale, data-driven research project focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and retail sales.

With data from both programs, we will be in a better position to analyze and understand the impact of eLending on our publishing program. The timing of the test period is open-ended.”

Additional information and statements:

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