Penguin expands library ebook lending with Baker & Taylor

Less than a year after big-six publisher Penguin stopped making its ebooks and digital audiobooks available to libraries, the company is distributing them again through new partners. Penguin, which is already working with digital library distributor 3M Cloud Library to make some ebooks available to libraries, has now expanded a pilot program with 3M competitor Baker & Taylor Axis360. The Baker & Taylor partnership will include libraries in Los Angeles and Cleveland, the New York Times reports.

Penguin’s terms with Baker & Taylor and 3M are the same: Ebooks are not available to libraries six months after they are published, an ebook can only be lent to one person at a time and after a year the library has to buy a new copy. 3M and Baker & Taylor don’t work with Kindle (s AMZN) e-readers.

Penguin ended its partnership with OverDrive, the largest digital library distributor in the U.S., in February 2012. The publisher cited unspecified security concerns. A user who borrows a Kindle (s AMZN) ebook through OverDrive is sent directly to Amazon’s website to download it, which might have been part of the problem.

Penguin is also making digital audiobooks available to libraries with Recorded Books’ OneClickdigital. Recorded Books is separately working on its own library ebook lending program, which will allow publishers a great deal of flexibility in how they make their ebooks available to libraries. The program is expected to launch in beta in early 2013.

Big-six publishers have varying policies for ebooks in libraries. Random House makes all of its ebooks available to libraries but sharply increased the prices this year. HarperCollins allows ebooks to be checked out 26 times before the library has to buy a new copy. Hachette does not make ebooks published after April 2010 available to libraries, and increased the prices of those that are available this year. Macmillan and Simon & Schuster do not allow library lending.

Photo courtesy of Flickr / Eric Mueller