Penguin withholds new e-books from UK library suppliers

Penguin withholds new e-books from UK library suppliers

Penguin UK is now withholding the supply of its new e-book releases to its library suppliers in the UK, following the same decision taken by Penguin US earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, Penguin US has announced it will restore its supply of backlist titles for e-book lending to Amazon until the end of the year, while the retailer and publisher work with library supplier Overdrive to address Penguin's concerns over copyright security.

In a company statement, Penguin UK said: "Consistent with the policy announced in the US earlier this week, Penguin has taken the decision to delay the availability of new digital files to its library suppliers in the UK while we work to resolve security issues with our partners."

The statement continued: "Penguin has been a long-time supporter of libraries, and the valuable role they play in connecting writers and readers in their local communities. Our overriding aim is to strike the right balance between access to our content and the protection of our authors' copyright. In the meantime, readers will still be able to enjoy new Penguin titles in their physical editions and existing titles in digital form."

It is understood Overdrive is Penguin UK's main library supply partner, though it also works with other smaller companies. The decision will effect all library suppliers equally. Penguin's digital backlist titles will still be available for lending.

Meanwhile, in a statement released by Penguin Group USA, the company said: "In follow-up to our statement yesterday about supplying Penguin Group USA digital books to libraries: Penguin USA took the decision yesterday to withhold the supply of new digital titles from suppliers to US libraries until concerns about the security of the copyright of its authors have been resolved.

"In addition, Penguin informed suppliers to libraries that it expected them to abide by existing agreements to offer older digital titles to libraries only if those files were held behind the firewalls of the suppliers.

"Following receipt of this information, Overdrive, a supplier of e-books to US libraries, removed "Get for Kindle" from its offering."

The statement continued: "Penguin has subsequently been informed by Amazon that it had not been consulted by Overdrive about the terms of Penguin's agreement with Overdrive. Amazon has undertaken to work with Penguin and Overdrive between now and the end of the year to address Penguin's concerns. Penguin will, as a result restore the supply of these titles until the end of the year in order to return the availability of older titles to all its digital customers."

Amazon.co.uk customers cannot currently borrow titles through the online retailer, and so the situation that has emerged in the US between Amazon and Penguin is not relevant in the UK. 

Meanwhile, the American Library Association has reacted to the news, saying though the decision to reinstate library e-books in the Kindle format is a "big step in addressing challenges libraries would have faced in denying access to library patrons", still the decision to withhold access to libraries to future e-book releases has left libraries "in a quandry about when they'll be able to provide access to the latest titles requested by their patrons".