February 15, 2012
How librarians should talk to patrons about Penguin … and not OverDrive
by Dennis Johnson
While noting “Penguin did NOT stop doing business with libraries. They stopped doing business with OverDrive,” librarian Bobbi Newman, at her Librarian By Day blog, nonetheless provides scripts for librarians about “How to Talk to Your Patrons About Penguin & Other Publishers Not Loaning eBooks to Libraries” that pretty much pin it all on publishers anyway:
I completely understand your frustration, unfortunately [insert publisher] has chosen not to allow public libraries to loan their ebooks. If you would like I can provide you with contact information for [insert publisher].
I know, I wish we had [insert title] too! Unfortunately [insert publisher] has chosen not to allow public libraries to loan their ebooks. If you would like I can provide you with contact information for [insert publisher].
She also suggests librarians contact publishers directly, using the following script:
Hi my name is [insert name] I am a patron of [insert library name]. It has recently come to my attention that [insert publishers] had made the decision not to loan ebooks to public libraries. I am writing/calling to express my concerns. I am a library patron but I am also a book buyer. In the last year I purchased [insert number] print books and/or [insert number] of ebooks and/or [insert number] of audiobooks. I am writing/calling to ask you to reconsider working with public libraries.
In a later post she calls a “mea culpa,” Newman explains that she understand the difference between Penguin cutting off OverDrive and Penguin cutting off libraries, and she clarifies that she understands it was OverDrive, not Penguin, that actually violated its contract with Penguin, and maybe other publishers … but she insists that “Yes, I still recommend the scripts I shared yesterday, I think it is important that we are explaining to patrons articulately and succinctly why we don’t have the books they want. There are other publishers on that list who are not doing business with libraries, and publishers who are regularly changing the terms of their business deal with OverDrive and libraries.”
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives