Penguin Expands Library eBooks to Baker & Tayor’s Axis 360 – Still Not Available on the Kindle

It’s long been known that Penguin never really liked the idea of library ebooks, and as of yesterday I think they made it clear that they dislike library ebooks on the Kindle even more. The NYTimes Media Decoder blog reported yesterday that Penguin has signed a distribution deal with Baker & Taylor to bring Penguin’s ebooks to B&T’s Axis 360 library ebook platform.

The terms of the deal are pretty much the same as the details that Penguin and 3M Cloud Library disclosed last week. The ebooks are available at retail price points  under expiring one year licenses.

They’re calling it a pilot test, and the ebooks will initially be available in the Los Angeles County library system Cuyahoga County PL in Ohio. (Of course, Axis 360 currently has so few libraries signed up they could let all the libraries have at the Penguin ebooks and it would still qualify as a pilot.)

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how Penguin won’t let OverDrive have their ebooks again. Given that OD would almost certainly accept the limitations of the one year license (they already swallowed the 5-year license on harry potter ebooks),  I don’t see a valid business reason that a major publisher wouldn’t want to make their ebooks available through the largest ebook distributor  – unless that’s the reason, of course.

OD has far more library partners than 3M Cloud Library and Axis 360 combined, so it is my guess that Penguin is shunning them for that reason alone. By making libraries pay the fees for 2 platforms Penguin can discourage at least some from buying Penguin ebooks. That might actually be more important to Penguin than keeping library ebooks off the Kindle.

See, one thing we know from the terms of the license is that Penguin doesn’t actually want to sell ebooks to libraries. They also don’t want it to look like they are refusing to support libraries, so instead they crafted a plan which would look legit while still being unappealing to libraries.

What, can you come up with a better explanation for Penguin’s motives? I doubt that you’ll find one which is more plausible than my explanation.

via NYTimes

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Nates Wrong19 November, 2012

    Nope; all along Penguin’s biggest complaint with OverDrive was the implementation of Kindle lending that turns patrons into Amazon customers, which was introduced in violation of OD’s contract with Penguin.

    1. Nate Hoffelder19 November, 2012

      While it’s more than likely that I am wrong, your comment doesn’t explain the one year expiring license.

      Edit: And you also have not explained why Penguin ebooks never came back to the Kindle or OverDrive.

    2. Eric19 November, 2012

      I simply don’t understand what Penguin has against selling books.

      Libraries are monstrously large book consumers on their own, and they spur book consumption, besides. If your job is to sell books, selling them to libraries is a good idea.

      Yes, Amazon is a bully, but they’re also the de facto book marketplace for the masses. If your job is to sell books, selling them through Amazon is a good idea. A library vendor (OverDrive) pushing customers to a portal (Amazon) where they can buy your books should be viewed as boon not bane.

      An unwillingness to sell to libraries or through Amazon serves to decimate both market visibility and accessibility. It’s difficult to see this as anything but the road to obscurity.

  2. […] as offered via Axis360 and 3M Cloud Library, both of which have been carrying Penguin ebooks since late 2012. The ebooks are licensed under a one-year expiring contract and priced at retail. Also, Penguin […]


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