CILIP letter to the Competition and Markets Authority

In discussion with the Academic eBook Investigation campaign, CILIP has written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to petition them formally to investigate the practices of publishers in respect of the pricing, licensing terms and availability of academic ebooks, which prevent librarians in Higher Education from fulfilling their public and educational task.

Under their Royal Charter and as a ‘regulatory authority’ for libraries and information services, CILIP has two mandatory roles:

  • To promote and encourage the maintenance of adequate and appropriate provision of library and information services of various kinds throughout the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and;
  • To scrutinise any legislation affecting the provision of library and information services and to promote such further legislation as may be considered necessary to that end.

On the basis of these roles, CILIP has highlighted a number of concerns with the CMA including:

  • A price differential between print and ebooks that cannot be justified by ‘enhanced functionality’;
  • The insecure nature of the licensing arrangements for access to ebooks, which means libraries do not ‘own’ the content they have paid for, and;
  • That restrictions on price and licensing place an unfair constraint on teaching, learning and research;
  • That the culture of confidentiality around pricing inhibits the operation of a fair and balanced market for academic e-content.

Commenting on the campaign, CILIP CEO Nick Poole said,

“We commend our members and colleagues in academic libraries for their work in shedding light on the issue of unsustainable pricing  and licensing conditions for academic ebooks through the Academic eBook Investigation campaign. We will continue to pursue dialogue with all stakeholders in seeking a sustainable long-term solution, but we believe that an intervention from the CMA is necessary to bring all parties to the table to address the issue. We are also reaching out to our network of Parliamentarians to maintain focus on this issue and to push for an equitable resolution.”

Founder of the academic ebook campaign Johanna Anderson said,

We are absolutely delighted to receive the strong endorsement from CILIP, evidenced by this unprecedented move. It is testament to the seriousness of the situation that CILIP have seen fit to formally put the case to CMA and are supporting us in our efforts to secure a full, fair and transparent investigation of the current academic ebook market.

We look forward to the response from CMA with interest

We thank Nick Poole, CILIP and all members of the board for their support.

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