Penguin pulls plug on library e-lending

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Penguin says it's to stop supplying e-books to libraries, and will no longer allow them to lend any titles for Amazon's Kindle reader.

The move - billed as being temporary - was announced by Penguin partner OverDrive. There's no explanation, although the decision appears to have something to do with security fears.

"Last week Penguin sent notice to OverDrive that it is reviewing terms for library lending of their eBooks," says OverDrive spokesperson Brianne Carlon.

"In the interim, OverDrive was instructed to suspend availability of new Penguin eBook titles from our library catalog and disable 'Get for Kindle'  functionality for all Penguin eBooks."

Carlon says that the company hopes that Penguin will restore both access to new titles and Kindle availability as soon as possible.

Existing library copies remain available, and libraries can add additional copies.

Librarians are a little miffed that the news was communicated only via an OverDrive blog post, rather than by email to the libraries themselves.

"The librarians who order from Overdrive, or deal with patrons, seem to be the last to know what is happening," says one. "This news should have been communicated to us as soon as OverDrive was aware of the change."

The American Library Association has also complained about the move.

"If Penguin has an issue with Amazon, we ask that they deal with Amazon directly and not hold libraries hostage to a conflict of business models," says ALA president-elect Maureen Sullivan.

"This situation is one more log thrown onto the fire of libraries’ abilities to provide access to books – in this case titles they’ve already purchased.  Penguin should restore access for library patrons now."