With the American Library Association annual meeting set to begin later this week, Penguin has announced a pilot program to digitally lend its titles through libraries. The program, which Penguin is partnering on with 3M (using its cloud library) and launching through the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library, will make the publisher's e-books available to libraries for a period of one year. Titles will be made available for lending six months after initial publication, and the program, which will launch at the NYPL in August, will roll out to libraries across the country if Penguin deems it a success.
Penguin pulled its digital titles from OverDrive in November 2011, claiming it was worried about, among other things, piracy. By February of this year, Penguin had cut ties with Overdrive and stopped lending e-books to libraries altogether. Speaking to the new program, Penguin CEO David Shanks immediately noted the importance of libraries to his house. "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."
The NYPL, for its part, called the agreement a "historic" one and said it is a "powerful first step toward libraries and publishers working together to build a model that meets the needs of our ever-changing society." At the Brooklyn Public Library, Linda E. Johnson, president and CEO, said the program will be a boon to a major growth area for the institutuion; she noted that, in the past year, the library has "tripled our e-book acquisitions budget."
The announcement by Penguin leaves Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachatte among the Big Six publishers that don't lend new e-book titles through libraries.