According to a report by the Associated Press, Penguin says that as of next Tuesday it will no longer window its frontlist e-book titles available to libraries. In a statement for the AP, Penguin’s director of online sales and marketing, Tim McCall did not say why the company changed, or what the company had learned about library lending and its impact on sales over the last year of its pilot program, stating only that Penguin was “ready to take the next step and offer what consumers and libraries have been asking for."
Currently, Penguin offers its titles to libraries through a pilot program through vendors 3M and Baker & Taylor. With the change, all frontlist e-books will now be offered through those two companies under the same terms as existed in the pilots, basically one-year licenses. The publisher, however, still does not work with OverDrive, the leading vendor in the library e-book lending space, after dumping them in 2011 in part due to OverDrive’s partnership with Amazon to enable Kindle lending.
ALA officials said they were happy that Penguin had decided to ease its restrictions, but in a post on the ALA’s e-content blog yesterday, ALA’s Larra Clark kept the change in perspective. “[It’s] the tip of the iceberg for the change we might see as a result of the merger of Penguin and Random House,” she noted. “As the two companies have markedly different e-book business models for the library market, there will have to be some kind of review and reconciliation of the models—and, therefore, this is a prime opportunity to consider options anew.”