November 22, 2011

Penguin pulls ebooks from libraries in apparent slap at Amazon


In the wake of the furor that erupted earlier this month when Amazon announced that Amazon Prime members could “borrow” ebooks from its Kindle Lending Library — causing numerous authors and publishers to declare that they hadn’t been consulted about this and it was a breech of contract — one of New York’s Big Six may be taking things to the next level: A Publishers Weekly report by Andrew Albanese says the Penguin Group has announced that its newest titles will not be available for library lending via OverDrive, the major distributor of ebooks to most libraries … including the Kindle Lending Library. In fact, OverDrive clarified for Albanese that Penguin specifically told it “to disable the recently launched “Get for Kindle” program for all Penguin e-books.”

OverDrive officials say Penguin cited security concerns, but that as they know of no incidents where Penguin titles have been compromised, well, they think something else is up. So does PW’s Albanese, who notes “speculation that Penguin’s actions may be directed at Amazon, which recently drew the ire of authors, agents, and publishers with the launch of its Amazon Prime lending model.”

To be fair, a PaidContent report notes that OverDrive “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 …” But most think otherwise. See, for example, this brief report at SlashDot, which says it sees the claim of security concerns, “as a weak excuse, while most likely taking a shot at Amazon.”


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives