MERRICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – In this digital age, you can find almost anything on your smartphone, including books.

If you can find it on the shelf, you can typically find it on a screen.

E-books aren’t just becoming more popular and commonplace in libraries, they’re becoming more sought-after, too.

“Our demand for e-books keeps going up throughout Nassau County,” said Dan Chuzmir, of the Merrick Library.

Libraries across our area are adapting to meeting those needs, but one publishing house is pushing back.

Starting Nov. 1, library systems will only be allowed to purchase one copy of publishing giant Macmillan’s new titles in e-book format. So readers must sign up and wait.

Eight weeks after the initial release, libraries can buy more copies.

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“Macmillan wants us to purchase just one copy. So it’ll be showcased in our digital collection, and then when readers are put-off by the long wait times, they’ll be frustrated into purchasing a copy instead of waiting,” Nassau Library System Director Caroline Ashby said.

Many local library advocates find that unfair. Several met at Elmont Memorial Library to oppose the embargo that they feel would disproportionately affect certain groups of people.

“Let me tell you about the people who read e-books from their library: They’re senior citizens who read e-books so they can enlarge the size of the text. They’re kids and teens with illnesses who read e-books in hospitals and doctors’ waiting rooms,” said Ashby.

Public libraries serve 1.3 million residents across Nassau County. By only providing one electric copy per library, advocates fear long wait times may discourage people from reading and hurt those unable to physically come by and pick up a book.

“We don’t need this type of restriction when it comes to literacy,” Assemblywoman Michelle Solages said. “We want people to love learning and get access to reading material.”

Macmillan did not return CBS2’s request for comment. But in the announcement, the publishing house cited revenue as the main reason for the embargo, saying it wants to help authors sell their books and limit how many are available to rent for free.


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