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Penguin eBooks Now Available to All Libraries via a Crappy Deal with 3M Cloud Library

It’s been just over a month since Penguin and 3M launched an ebook pilot with the NYPL, and judging by today’s news that pilot must be a roaring success. 3M has just sent out an email to their member libraries. They’re expanding/ending the pilot and making Penguin ebooks available to all.

But the terms of the deal are so crappy that I for one would not be interested.

According to the email, Penguin will license ebooks to libraries under certain conditions.libraries cannot get the ebooks until 6 months after publication, and the ebooks are handled under a license which expires after one year.

But wait, there’s more. Each title will be limited to 26 checkouts,  and they are also restricted to a single checkout at a time. And, to cap it all off, the libraries are going to have to pay retail.

In the past I have said that several of the major publishers hate libraries, and I am once again proven correct. Even though publishers release statements like the following, they don’t really mean it.

David Shanks, the chief executive of Penguin Group, said in a statement: “We have always been committed to libraries and we are hopeful that this experiment will be successful. Our partnership with 3M and the New York Public Library is a first step toward understanding the best means of supporting the growing digital missions of our great library institutions and their sincere desire to bring writers to new readers.”

Penguin’s love of libraries resembles the behavior of a drunk husband who beats his wife. Sure he loves his wife, but the neighbors still call the police at least once a week.

Email to follow:

From: [Heather McCormack at 3M]
Sent: Friday, November 09, 2012 10:00 AM
Subject: Penguin Group (USA) Titles Now Available for Purchase to All 3M Cloud Library Systems
Happy Friday, Cloud Library Customers.
I’m over-the-Empire-State-Building excited to announce that effective today Penguin Group (USA) has agreed to expand its pilot with 3M beyond the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library and license access of its ebooks to all of our library systems. Titles are available for purchase immediately in the Library Admin Tool.
The terms that 3M originally brokered still apply: there is a six-month delay on new titles and term of use is one year from purchase date. Library patrons will be allowed to access ebooks remotely using library-compatible reading devices, under the one-user, one-copy model. 3M is developing ways to make the renewal and repurchasing of titles easy in our new Catalog Acquisition Tool, which will be available in early 2013.
Attached you will find a spreadsheet of Penguin Group (USA) ebooks currently for sale. I will follow up very soon with a list of recent adult, young adult, and children’s best sellers, plus core backlist for those of you who wish to do deeper collection development. Suffice to say your fiction and nonfiction holdings stand to benefit greatly. Zadie Smith, T.D. Jakes, Harlan Coben, Nevada Barr, Stephen King, T.C. Boyle, Patricia Cornwell, and Lauren Willig count among Penguin’s marquee authors.
I cannot stress enough what a boon this is to The Cloud and, more important, your readers. Thank you for your business and suggestions about what we should work to acquire next.
Heather McCormack | Collection Development Manager
3M Cloud Library

via ALM

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fjtorres November 13, 2012 um 8:16 am

Experiment indeed…
("Let’s see how far we can push those suckers before they start buying from the smaller publishers…")
The comparison to an abusive marriage isn’t far off; for all the abuse the BPHs heap on libraries, most libraries still only buy ebooks from the BPHs, ignoring indies and small publishing houses all together.

BTW, Random House isn’t quite this library-hostile; I wonder which philosophy will prevail *if* the Random Penguin merger goes through…

Nate Hoffelder November 13, 2012 um 9:18 am

I think they will compromise and adopt the worst details from both policies. That means libraries will be charged 3 or 4 times the regular retail for ebooks which expire after a year.

Rashkae November 13, 2012 um 10:06 am

When the government eventually steps in and imposes compulsery licensing for libraries, as they must as this continuing drama demonstrates, the Publishers will have no one to blame but themselves.

Isles November 13, 2012 um 10:41 am

This is why sites like spring up. It seems that publishers do their best to restrict eBooks as much as they possibly can, even when they are attempting to put on a show of kindness or cooperation. The fact is, there are many students, teachers, and learners who want access to books that would cost $100 – $300 if they bought hard copies from a university press. Instead of making digital copies available to libraries, publishers print incredibly small numbers of a scholarly title and then let them run out. They bury the digital rights, and people are forced to pay $500 for a copy on eBay.

Penguin is one of the most egregious publishers when it comes to overpricing eBooks. The standard price of a Penguin Classics edition is $12.99 – $18.99, even when the main text is in the public domain.

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