PETITION: Mega-corps are trying to ban libraries from owning digital books!

The largest publishing corporations in the world, as well as their multimillion dollar lobbying operations, want to squeeze libraries out of our digital future.

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Currently, major publishers offer no option for libraries to own and preserve digital books. They’re even suing to ban libraries from making their own digital books. With so many diverse voices published only in digital format, and digital books often more accessible for the most marginalized library patrons, this is unacceptable. Sign on now to demand that the largest publishing lobby in the US reverse course and stand up for libraries in 2023!

The petition text reads:

Association of American Publishers: Reverse Course for Libraries and Diversity in 2023

Dear Association of American Publishers,

As the year winds down and we book lovers, publishing workers, and authors alike have the opportunity to reflect on our wishes for 2023, we are calling on you to take three pro-library and pro-diversity actions in a gesture of goodwill. 

Earlier this year over 1000 authors including Neil Gaiman, Hanif Abdurraqib, Chuck Wendig, and Naomi Klein spoke out in support of libraries. The Authors for Libraries letter decried continued attempts by your organization and the large corporate publishers you represent to shut down library lending online, to bring lawsuits against libraries, and to publicly smear or criminalize library advocates. Such actions undermine not only the traditional role of libraries, but also the essential role libraries play in preserving and championing diverse, traditionally marginalized, and midlist authors—as well as the safety of readers.  

It’s time to turn over a new leaf in 2023.

Instead of churning up animosity amongst publishers, authors, and libraries by taking these incredibly concerning actions we ask that you take the following good faith steps. After all, there is legislation in 15 states that censors ideas and bans books that children and young adults, particularly students of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+, so desperately need access to. We need libraries now more than ever, and the past few years’ efforts to kneecap them for profit are in terrible taste.

The AAP has been a driving force behind many of these anti-library efforts. AAP leadership has suggested libraries and the patrons they support are “aggressors” and that library lending online is illegal. AAP has also, repeatedly, presented its views as almost uniformly aligned with the interests of authors in its quest for stronger, more oppressive laws that would maximize profit for the shareholders of its largest members and bestselling authors, while marginalizing the vast majority of authors, libraries, and library patrons. 

In the spirit of the season, we ask the AAP to take the following steps to begin to heal this divide:

  1. Stop acting as legal counsel for the publishers who are suing the Internet Archive 

    Because major publishers do not offer any option for libraries to own digital books, this lawsuit would outlaw the last option US libraries have to own and preserve digital books.
    Last year, the AAP refused to comply with a subpoena for its communications with Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin RandomHouse, Wiley, asserting that its communications with the publishers were covered by attorney-client privilege.
    We find it deeply troubling that AAP is acting as lawyers for these publishers–and asserts that it can shield all manner of internal communication and coordination from scrutiny in the courts. 
  1. Announce an end to massive anti-library lobbying expenditures

    Each year, AAP spends millions on lobbying to promote an ever-expanding set of rights that allow its largest members to dominate the market at the expense of most authors and the public. We know, for instance, that in several states that AAP has opposed grassroots efforts in several states to provide fair licensing terms for libraries.  AAP is currently led by Maria Pallante, the ousted former Register of Copyrights, highlighting the cozy industry relationship it has had with the agency.

    Maria Pallante is paid $579,000 annually, and the publishing industry has had years of record profits. Publishers can afford to let libraries own and preserve digital books, and to put more of their money back into more appropriate compensation for authors and publishing workers alike. 
  1. Stop celebrating public figures who threaten marginalized voices

    In 2022, AAP awarded Senator Thom Tillis an Award for Distinguished Public Service. AAP should never have granted any historically anti-LGBTQ+ and pro-censorship public figure who worked to make it easier to sue librarians a major publishing industry award. We ask that you immediately strip Senator Tillis of this award, in a gesture of solidarity with the diverse authors and readers who are under attack from book ban extremists. 


The Undersigned