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.
And so the assault on readers continues. First there was Macmillan and S&S, who never allowed library ebooks at all. And then there was HarperCollins, who decided to limit ebooks to 26 checkouts and a funeral (here, here). And now we have Penguin, except we don't know what is going on.
Penguin just can't put a foot right lately, can they? This is also the publisher behind Book Country's new self-pub scam. This is a new program where you pay penguin for the privilege of selling you r ebooks in the major ebookstores (never mind that you can do it yourself).
But I have to say that the block on the Kindle lending worries me the most. Temporarily blocking sales of new titles is one thing; it's a minor frustration to librarians but it won't impact users much. But blocking a particular service is different. Penguin just got the attention of anyone trying to read a Penguin ebook on a Kindle, and not in a good way.
The thing about most readers is that we don't really know who published what book. We know the author, title, and genre, but publishers don't market themselves well enough for readers to really be aware of them. But now there's going to be a large group of Kindle owners whose first introduction to Penguin will be broken library ebooks. That could turn out to be an exceptionally stupid maneuver on the part of Penguin.
Update: Penguin has responded on The Digital Shift:
Penguin has been a long-time supporter of libraries with both physical and digital editions of our books. We have always placed a high value on the role that libraries can play in connecting our authors with our readers. However, due to new concerns about the security of our digital editions, we find it necessary to delay the availability of our new titles in the digital format while we resolve these concerns with our business partners. Penguin’s aim is to always connect writers and readers, and with that goal in mind, we remain committed to working closely with our business partners and the library community to forge a distribution model that is secure and viable. In the meantime, we want to assure you that physical editions of our new titles will continue to be available in libraries everywhere.
That is pure and utter spin. It means nothing and says nothing about what they really want.
Here's the thing. If they're really concerned about security then they will have to kill their ebooks entirely. OverDrive uses the exact same DRM as on all the major ebookstores. If OverDrive is not secure enough then no one is. And if the Kindle ebooks aren't secure enough then why does Penguin still sell ebooks in the Kindle Store?
image by timetrax23