Mea Culpa on Penguin and Libraries and An Alternative to OverDrive

I feel I need to make a clarification on yesterday’s post title How to Talk to Your Patrons About Penguin & Other Publishers Not Loaning eBooks to Libraries – Penguin did NOT stop doing business with libraries. They stopped doing business with OverDrive.

As Publisher’s Lunch Points out:

As we have reported multiple times, but does not seem to have seeped out into general reports or public consciousness, multiple publishers have told us that Overdrive’s implementation of their Kindle library lending–in which library patrons are sent to a commercial, third-party retailer, in this case Amazon–is in their view a direct violation of Overdrive’s contracts. Remember that in November, Penguin said clearly it “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.” Not the firewalls of retailers. Also in November, Penguin said it had “subsequently been informed by Amazon that it had not been consulted by Overdrive about the terms of Penguin’s agreement with Overdrive,” which, you can reasonably infer, does not allow Kindle lending the way Overdrive was executing it.

It just so happens that OverDrive is the dominate business model for public library ebook lending. So what do we do? Yes, I still recommend the scripts I shared yesterday, I think it is important that we are explaining to patrons articulately and succinctly why we don’t have the books they want. There are other publishers on that list who are not doing business with libraries, and publishers who are regularly changing the terms of their business deal with OverDrive and libraries.

The other thing we need is a reasonable alternative to OverDrive, one publishers will work with. So I am suggesting you take a look at Library Renewal.

Library Renewal is a non-profit that is for libraries, by libraries and with libraries. Their mission is to create a sustainable, reasonable platform for e-content delivery for libraries. You can find out more about them on their about page, make a donation to support them either by purchasing cool swag or by making a cash donation.  If you are a library director consider being a partner library.

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6 thoughts on “Mea Culpa on Penguin and Libraries and An Alternative to OverDrive

  1. Thank you for the link to Library Renewal. This e content thing is complicated (and fascinating) and libraries are major stakeholders as representative for fair access to materials for the general public. I’ll be following this organization.

    I’d like to share a link called It’s kind of like Kickstarter, but instead of funding individual projects, it funds the digital “ungluing” of ebooks by raising funds to pay publishers for Creative Commons licensing for specific titles.

    Wouldn’t it be great if libraries could band together and buy CC licenses for selected ebooks? Wow!

    Again, thank you for keeping on top of the ebook debate, raising questions, and clarifying thinking on the topic.


  2. I find Penguin’s public stance on this perplexing and self-destructive. The justification that they’re giving is that OverDrive’s implementation of Kindle-lending drives patrons to a commercial retailer–Amazon. Being a commercial retailer, Amazon actively encourages these patrons to purchase their own copy of the book during the loan/return process. How can this result in anything other than increased revenue for the publisher? How can availability on such a well-established platform as the Kindle do anything other than increase market visibility of their products? What am I missing?


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