Penguin, which only offered backlist e-book titles for library lending, is terminating its contract with OverDrive, the library digital vendor, and starting February 10 will cease to offer any of its e-books or audiobooks to libraries. Penguin is negotiating a “continuance” agreement that will allow libraries that have already purchased Penguin e-books to continue to loan them.
In addition, Penguin has also prohibited over-the-air downloads of Penguin e-books to Kindle devices or apps. Patrons of libraries that do have Penguin e-books will have to download them to a personal computer and use a USB cable to load them into their Kindle devices. While the scope of Penguin’s concerns over library lending are not clear, it does appear that the role of Amazon devices—OverDrive has partnered with Amazon to allow library patrons to borrow e-books via wireless download to their Kindle devices—in library lending is a factor in Penguin’s decision to withdraw its e-books from OverDrive. Penguin is in talks with other vendors in hopes of restoring e-book lending.
In November, Penguin stopped offering its frontlist e-books to OverDrive for library lending. While a spokesperson for OverDrive told PW that they did not have a statement, Library Journal has posted a link to a letter the vendor sent to its partners. An OverDrive spokesperson told PW, that the company is continuing its negotiations with Penguin and that they expect to have “additional information for our partners tomorrow about some key initiatives that we can share after it's been distributed to them.”
Penguin issued its own statement regarding its decision to cut ties with OverDrive. “Looking ahead, we are continuing to talk about our future plans for eBook and digital audiobook availability for library lending with a number of partners providing these services. Because of these discussions, as of February 10, 2012, Penguin will no longer offer additional copies of eBooks and audiobooks for purchase via OverDrive. Physical editions of Penguin's new and backlist titles will continue to be available in libraries everywhere.”