With Covid-19 cases on the rise nationwide, Penguin Random House executives this week confirmed that the publisher is extending its temporary digital license terms for e-books and digital audio in libraries and schools through March 31, 2021. All Penguin Random House and DK adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction titles are part of this extension.

Under the terms of the temporary program, PRH is offering libraries the option to license e-books and digital audio for one-year terms at a 50% prorated price as an alternative to the existing two-year term for e-books or perpetual access for digital audio. A cost-per-circulation model is also available.

This week's announcement means that the temporary license terms will be in place for a full year at least; the program was first rolled out in mid-March of 2020, as the Covid-19 crisis began, and was previously extended over the summer. The news of yet another extension comes as new Covid-19 infections hit record levels this week, topping 100,000 new cases for the first time since the crisis began, raising the specter of more physical library and school closures and the ongoing need to serve readers and students with digital resources.

“Penguin Random House’s continued strong commitment to Public and School Libraries remains unchanged," said Skip Dye, PRH senior v-p for Library Sales & Digital Strategy. "This time of uncertainty and crisis makes books more essential than ever. We want to continue to have books more accessible for educators and librarians to put into the hands of students and patrons everywhere.”

Librarians have told PW that the change in PRH's terms was appreciated and useful, as libraries have tried to minimize the impact of physical closures on their digital holds lists—and on their budgets. The impact of the digital shift necessitated by the crisis was the subject of an October 27 Publishers Weekly 'Live from the Library Lounge' webinar event, with librarians insisting that the crisis has highlighted the need for a more affordable and sustainable digital library market.

The terms extension comes days after PRH announced this is also extending its open license for online story time and read-aloud videos through March 31, 2021. The program was also first announced in March of 2020 to encourage digital read-aloud sessions for libraries and schools closed by the Covid-19 outbreak.