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In 2011, Penguin decided to stop offering new ebooks to libraries, citing “concerns about the security of digital editions.” The publisher then ended its relationship with digital library distributor OverDrive.
Now that Penguin is running ebook trials with two new library distributors — Baker & Taylor and 3M — the publisher has decided it is safe to make new ebooks available for lending again, the AP reported Wednesday. Penguin has been tracking ebook checkouts at libraries to make sure they are not cutting into paid book sales, and found that “the effect of library downloads on commercial revenues has been acceptable.”
“Penguin is proud to make all of our eBooks available to library patrons,” Tim McCall, Penguin’s VP of online sales and marketing, said in a statement. “After careful examination of our pilot programs, we are ready to take the next step and offer what consumers and libraries have been asking for, thus fulfilling our mission to bring new writers to readers.”
In its library trials, Penguin allows an ebook to be lent to only one person at a time, and after a year the library has to buy a new copy of the ebook. The prices for libraries are the same as retail prices. Penguin’s library ebooks aren’t available to Kindle (s AMZN) users, because Baker & Taylor and 3M do not yet support the format.
Other publishers also place restrictions on ebook library lending. Random House makes all of its ebooks available to libraries, but at prices as much as three times higher than the retail price. HarperCollins allows its ebooks to be checked out 26 times before the library has to buy a new copy. Hachette only makes new ebooks available to some libraries in a pilot program, and charges more than retail price. Macmillan is running a two-year trial that makes 1,200 older ebooks available to libraries. Simon & Schuster does not make its ebooks available to libraries.