Schlow Joins in Nationwide Publisher Boycott

Book with Headphones

Publishers Implement New Restriction for Library Users

In recent months, major publishers have changed how and when library users can access their eAudiobooks. These restrictions, enacted by Simon & Schuster and Blackstone Audio, are creating barriers to what patrons can access through their libraries. The changes include prohibiting library users from accessing certain titles for 90 days and forcing libraries to re-purchase in-demand digital audiobooks at the regular price after just 24 months. These new terms will result in patrons having fewer titles to choose from and waiting longer for popular titles.

Because of the impact these changes will have on library users, Schlow Centre Region Library has chosen to join other libraries in the state and across the country in boycotting digital audiobooks from these publishers beginning on September 30, 2019. The boycott will continue for six months.

"Restrictive e-audio pricing and restrictive licensing is preventing us from providing the audio books our users want and need,”  said Cathi Alloway, Schlow Centre Region Library Director. “We hope that publishers will notice our message: libraries build readership that ultimately improves sales.  Equal access for library patrons benefits everyone."

The boycott does not impact what patrons will be able to access in print or in eBook format.  Schlow will continue to make every effort to provide our patrons with the books they want to read, and in the ways they want to read them. We hope that by joining this boycott publishers will reconsider restrictions that negatively impact library users.

For more information on how the boycott may impact title availability, please see our FAQs below. Still have questions? Contact


  • Can you please purchase the eAudiobook version of (title)?

Due to recent restrictions on how Simon & Schuster and Blackstone Audio make their titles available to public libraries, we will not be purchasing this title as a digital audiobook. This title may be available in other formats, however. Please search our online catalog at We are not purchasing items from these publishers in eAudio format as part of a boycott in response to these new restrictions made by the publisher.

  • Why are you boycotting these publishers?

Restrictions made by both Simon & Schuster and Blackstone Audio for library purchase and lending of digital audiobooks from their publishing houses placed new limits on patron access to these titles. While we work to develop broad collections for the public, as responsible stewards of taxpayer funding, we must wisely spend limited collection funding by selecting popular audiobooks from publishers with less restrictive terms for libraries.

  • What publisher placed restrictions and what were the restrictions?

Blackstone Audio has entered into an exclusive deal with Amazon’s Audible streaming service, and will not permit libraries to purchase certain digital audiobook titles for 90 days after release, hoping that patrons frustrated at being unable to borrow this from their library will instead purchase this content.

Simon & Schuster altered lending terms for digital audiobooks, requiring libraries to repurchase digital audiobooks after two years. Because forcing libraries to repurchase audiobook titles after a short period of time (audiobooks on physical CD can last for five years or more, by comparison), this will lead to patrons being able to access fewer titles in our collection, since limited funds will not allow us to repurchase all of this content.

  • Why are publishers making these changes?

As sales of digital materials slow, publishers have become concerned that circulations of eBooks and digital audiobooks through public libraries is a factor in this decrease. While publishers fear that free lending from libraries depresses sales, a study by Pew Research found that library patrons are actually more likely than non-library users to purchase books. Additionally, libraries help patrons discover new authors they might not have otherwise found. Providing equitable access for library patrons ultimately benefits everyone!

  • When will you resume purchasing titles from these publishers?

We will resume purchases of digital audiobooks from these publishers at the conclusion of the boycott period; either six months, or at such time as when the publishers choose to make these titles available on terms that are equitable for our patrons. 

  • If you're going to buy the book I want in six months, Blackstone and Simon & Schuster still gets the library's money. So what good does this do? 

Our goal with the boycott is to communicate with Simon & Schuster and Blackstone Audio. We do not expect to impact their revenue significantly; instead, this boycott is about asking publishers to consider how their terms for libraries negatively impact the ability of our patrons to access these resources. Publishers should not expect that libraries will always do business with them if they continue to add restrictive terms that affect our patrons. Libraries and publishers are partners in connecting readers with books and authors they enjoy, and many publishers do not choose to place restrictions on their materials that hurt library patrons.

Simon & Schuster and Blackstone are just two of several larger publishers who have introduced new restrictions on library lending in the last few months. This pattern of restricting access to library patrons is concerning, and we believe that taking a stand to let publishers know that these restrictions are unacceptable is the best way to discourage other publishers from doing the same, leading to fewer titles available for patrons. Overall, we believe that a short-term boycott on these publishers will help avoid longer-term restrictions on the entire collection.

  • What can I do to help? 

We welcome support by patrons! If you would like to help, please send your comments to Simon & Schuster and Blackstone Audio - the more times they hear the message that library patrons deserve equal access to content the more likely they will listen!

Simon & Schuster:

Blackstone Audio:

Posted 9/16/2019