Penguin strikes eBook deal with US libraries
Penguin has struck a deal with two New York City public library systems to return its eBooks to library shelves.
If successful at the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library, Penguin said it could offer similar deals to libraries across the U.S., including school and university libraries. There are hopes that the deal could prompt other major publishers to offer eBooks for sale to libraries. Last year, HarperCollins frustrated many librarians by capping at 26 the number of times a library can lend an eBook. Earlier this year, Random House raised by as much as three times the prices it charges libraries for digital books.
Penguin stopped selling e-books to libraries last year amid concerns over piracy and the security of private information of libraries and of library users.
The pilot scheme delays the release of eBooks to the libraries for six months after titles go on public sale. Each library eBook will expire after a year.
Tim McCall, vice president of online sales and marketing at Penguin, said the company will make all of its titles available, however he declined to discuss specific prices. He added the six-month delay is intended to prevent library eBooks from undercutting other sales. The renewable one-year expiration date on eBooks, meanwhile, is designed to mimic the natural shelf life of print books.
Brooklyn Public Library President Linda Johnson Wednesday said the reluctance of publishers to provide eBook titles had limited the library's ability to deliver equal access to all content for people who can't afford to buy books.
"Publishers haven't been doing business with libraries this year, so this is a great moment for us," she said. "This is a great moment for us. ”
Christopher Platt, the New York Public Library's director of collections and circulation operations, said he hopes Penguin might eventually agree to make some titles available immediately, while retaining the six-month delay for hot-selling titles. Exposure of first-time authors in libraries, for example, could boost sales, he said.