Penguin Pulls New E-Books From Libraries

Citing unspecified “concerns about the security of our digital editions,” Penguin Group USA is pulling new e-books from libraries; in addition, it is not lending any e-books to libraries through Kindle.

In a statement provided to Library Journal‘s Digital Shift blog, Penguin says that due to security–read: piracy–concerns, it finds it “necessary to delay the availability of our new titles in the digital format while we resolve these concerns with our business partners.”

Overdrive, the leading distributor of books to libraries, posted the following statement to its blog:

Last week Penguin sent notice to OverDrive that it is reviewing terms for library lending of their eBooks. 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. We apologize for this abrupt change in terms from this supplier. We are actively working with Penguin on this issue and are hopeful Penguin will agree to restore access to their new titles and Kindle availability as soon as possible.

Penguin, whose self-publishing service Book Country has already drawn quite a bit of criticism this week, is likely to receive more flak for this move. Yet it is unusual among the “big six” publishers in that it allows e-books to be borrowed through libraries at all. Macmillan and Simon & Schuster (NYSE: CBS) do not distribute any e-books (new or old) to libraries. Hachette Book Group does not allow new titles to be lent as e-books, and HarperCollins allows new e-books to be borrowed only 26 times before the library has to buy a new copy. This leaves Random House as the only big six publisher currently allowing unfettered access to its e-books through libraries.

A reader also notes that OverDrive–though it’s the main player in library distribution–is not universally beloved by the publishers using it, and it’s possible there is some issue related to OverDrive’s distribution of Penguin titles, or of those titles specifically to Kindle. But that is unclear.