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Monday Midday News: Penguin Pulls Out of Overdrive

This will be sad and distressing news for readers.  Readers are reporting that there are no Penguin books available in their libraries digital catalogs for the Kindle.  Emails were sent to representatives of both Penguin and Overdrive but no response has been given at this time.

I understand that this thing is done to prevent Kindle (and thus Amazon) from having a competitive advantage but it does feel like the Big 6 hates libraries, at least the digital versions of them.

Update from Overdrive:

Last week Penguin sent notice to OverDrive that it is reviewing terms for library lending of their eBooks.   In the interim, OverDrive was instructed to suspend availability of new Penguin eBook titles from our library catalog and disable “Get for Kindle”  functionality for all Penguin eBooks.   We apologize for this abrupt change in terms from this supplier.  We are actively working with Penguin on this issue and are hopeful Penguin will agree to restore access to their new titles and Kindle availability as soon as possible.

Update from Penguin (no more new titles):

 However, due to new concerns about the security of our digital editions, we find it necessary to delay the availability of our new titles in the digital format while we resolve these concerns with our business partners. Penguin’s aim is to always connect writers and readers, and with that goal in mind, we remain committed to working closely with our business partners and the library community to forge a distribution model that is secure and viable. In the meantime, we want to assure you that physical editions of our new titles will continue to be available in libraries everywhere.

Seriously? Penguin thinks that library copies are the source of piracy? That can’t be the real reason.

*****

Digital library offerings are very expensive. The Salt Lake Library pays $12,000 a year to Overdrive and then a fee per title to the publisher.

Digital copies of new titles purchased from Overdrive tend to be on average about $8 more than a print edition and can jump as high as $75.99 for popular titles.

*****

 Simon Armitage, a British poet and novelists, speaking at a conference in India is proclaiming that digital books and the piracy he believes rises because of digital books, will lead to authors not being able to make any money.

Making books available in digital form puts them at risk of being pirated over the internet, according to Simon Armitage.

Once this happens, he said, authors could find their works being shared for free in a similar fashion to the way music was being distributed online ten years ago.

******

The reduction of physical bookstores is not just an American problem according to reports from China.   Because of the low prices offered by internet stores, physical bookstores have not been able to compete:

Meanwhile, in Beijing, the famous ’Forestsong’ bookshop, has closed its doors after 16 years. According to the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, almost half of the country’s street book stores have gone out of businesses in the last ten years.

******

Black Friday deals update:

A couple of places like Radio Shack and Staples are selling the devices at retail but offering a $10-$20 gift certificate to the stores along with the purchase of the device.  Target is offering a $30 Target Gift Card with purchase of a Nook or Nook Color (not Tablet) until Thursday.  There are a few gift card free deals:

  • Nook Touch WiFi $79 (regular price $99) – Best Buy
  • Apple iPad 2 16GB with Wi-Fi $454.99 (regular price $499) – Best Buy
  • Kindle Keyboard w SO & 3G $85 (regular price $139)  – Target
  • Blackberry Playbook $199 (regular price $299) – Office Depot, Staples, and Best Buy

Wal-mart and Target also have iTunes gift card sales.  Wal-mart is buy a $100 GC for $80 and Target’s is buy $25 GC for $20.

Amazon will also be offering 5 albums a day for $4.99. I bought Watch the Throne and Torches by Foster the People this morning.  Don’t forget that if you own a Kindle Fire, you need to check for your free app daily.  Today’s free app is the Full Version of Documents to Go, a $14.99 value.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

29 Comments

  1. Amy Kathryn
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 14:24:37

    I thought it was something weird at my library when I noticed Kindle books dropped from 9000 to 7000 and 4 of my wish list books went to ePub only. Thanks for the explanation. I am very disappointed. It was an easy way for me to try new authors and series that I otherwise might ignore.

  2. Becca
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 14:30:52

    It’s ironic that shortly after I read about Penguin pulling all their kindle books from Overdrive, the following email crossed my desk:

    Libraries as Discovery Platforms: How Public Libraries Can Help Your Marketing (WEBcast 11/22/11)

    https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/625482328?et_mid=526869&rid=232991631

  3. TFQ
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 14:31:57

    The Seattle Public Library is big into e-book lending (32,000 titles.) Doing a search on their site, it looks like Penguin US titles are available in Adobe Epub formats, but not for the Kindle format – I found over 3200 epub titles from Penguin US. (I did find 73 titles from Penguin Books Ltd available for the Kindle.) So for the moment anyway, it looks more like Penguin US, at least, hates Amazon rather than hating libraries.

  4. CK
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 14:52:44

    Armitage warned that the growing use of iPad and Kindle devices could have a ‘potentially huge’ impact on writers and publishers.

    Dognabbit you darn kids git off my lawn! The sky is falling and I don’t like it!

  5. Jane
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 15:05:06

    @TFQ From the updated statements it looks like Penguin is going to rethink this library lending thing entirely.

  6. Monday Midday News: Penguin Pulls Out of Overdrive | BESTTOPIC | It's a News site
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 15:05:15

    […] the original post: Monday Midday News: Penguin Pulls Out of Overdrive Read […]

  7. library addict
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 15:26:13

    I just checked out some Penguin books from the library yesterday. Of course, mine were in ePub format. Is this only the Kindle versions?

    Of course if it weren’t for their stupid Agency pricing many of the Penguin digital books I get from the library I would no doubt buy. Something they should think about but I know they don’t care :(

  8. Brian
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 16:04:38

    @library addict:

    I just checked out some Penguin books from the library yesterday. Of course, mine were in ePub format. Is this only the Kindle versions?

    It’s only Kindle versions of books that libraries currently have, but at this point it looks like libraries won’t be able to aquire any more new titles in any format (at least for now).

  9. library addict
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 16:24:10

    @Brian:

    It’s only Kindle versions of books that libraries currently have, but at this point it looks like libraries won’t be able to aquire any more new titles in any format (at least for now).

    Boo!

  10. Carin
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 16:44:44

    From what I understand, prior to Kindle deciding to allow library borrowing, library ebooks were mostly EPub. Then Kindle decides to activate their library borrowing after cutting a deal with Overdrive, where Amazon basically says “Hey library, do you have an ePub version of BookA? Well, we’ll automatically give you a Kindle version of that book to lend out. You will still only have one ecopy of that book, but it can magically be either ePub or Kindle now.”

    I can see where that might make publishers stop and think. If Amazon didn’t cut that deal, wouldn’t libraries have to buy two versions of each ebook to allow lending to any platform? Kind of like they have to buy both regular print paper and large print paper?

    I don’t have a problem with the deal Amazon cut. I’m kind of jealous, actually. I’d sure like my entire library to be available in multiple formats (without stripping drm). But I can see where publishers might start asking questions. I don’t know if they get any compensation out of that Amazon deal or not.

  11. Patrice
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 16:55:10

    The big Pubs are just determined to annoy readers aren’t they? So shortsighted. I feel bad for the authors. It just drives me to the digital competitors who know what they are doing (no DRM and digital first) more and more. And if there is a book from Penguin or other NY Pub I simply must read I will borrow from library the “old fashioned way” in paper. Or I’ll buy em secondhand. So the publisher STILL won’t get my hard earned money!

  12. Shannon Stacey
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 17:44:33

    Digital library offerings are very expensive. The Salt Lake Library pays $12,000 a year to Overdrive and then a fee per title to the publisher.

    Ours are done by the state library and the town libraries can pay a fee to be part of the co-op/pool kind of thing. It’s the only way our small towns can offer digital library books. Even then, it’s a strain on the budget. So I sign in as a member of my town library, but I’m actually borrowing the book from the State of NH. (Or I would if I had the patience to be 387th on the waiting list for any given book.)

  13. TFQ
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 17:54:16

    @Jane: Thanks for the updates.

    Gotta love that comment about physical copies being available in libraries; whoever threw that in clearly hasn’t been paying attention to the research on reading habits of people who switch to e-readers. I’m a big time user of our library, but I don’t think I’ve read a hard copy book from the library since I got my e-reader in February…

  14. Maili
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 18:08:18

    But he said he hoped that many serious readers would still like to own a physical copy of books. ‘People who read poetry, for example, like the feel, the heft and the smell of a book,’ [Simon Armitage] added.

    Where’s my cricket bat?

    It’s not about the format, damn it. It’s about the contents. It’s insane that he’s bitching about that sort of thing when he should be over the moon that people are still reading and still buying books (digital or not).

    It’s quite odd that no one had really said anything about audio books, but the moment when the existence of electronic format penetrated their consciousness? “Oh noez! *flailing hands in air* The world’s burning, the world’s burning! We all are going to starve to death die! Fire! *flailing* *flailing* *flailing*” Jesus Christ.

    Generally, I’m quite irritated when publishers and authors claim that piracy is destroying publishing. Then again, they said the same thing about libraries, used book sales, personal borrowing, screen readers and the sales of ARCs (review copies) last few decades. What are they going to complain about next? Online book streaming?

    I know there are many very bright people in the industry, but when they say things like that? I nurse doubts on the quality of light bulbs in their heads. Actually, I sometimes think they use fear and misinformation to manipulate other publishers, authors and readers to view the concept of book sharing (legit or not) as a Very Bad Thing. /tinfoilhatmoment

  15. RB
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 18:29:15

    The closing of stores is definitely not just an American problem, though maybe that’s all the media has been reporting over there!

    In Australia almost all of our bookstores have shut down. A couple of “Bargain $5″ stores have replaced them, but in my city there aren’t actually any real shops left now.

    Here a paperback will set you back somewhere between $25 and $40 (and our dollar is worth the same as yours), so readers have been shopping from The Book Depository for years now. So a five dollar book is definitely a huge bargain for us!

  16. Chrissy
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 22:00:06

    Within a few days of news breaking that they have also pulled a vanity publishing cutie?

    Also that title makes me giggle inappropriately and have naughty ideas that are almost impossible to envision.

  17. SAO
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 22:21:41

    I have serious reservations with American e-reading devices being so strongly tied to individual single retailers. If I were in publishing, I’d be very worried about it, too.

    I presume piracy of English language books is huge — across the world. Look at Beijing, a city of 20 millions people. As far as I could tell, they barely have 10 foreign bookstores. Moscow, with 10 to 15 million has 3 to 5, depending on what you count. The offerings are limited and the prices high. By contrast, pirate sites have a huge selection.

    For people without US bank accounts and/or trust in their e-commerce systems, buying English books at US prices is hard.

  18. jayhjay
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 08:07:18

    Thanks Jane for the Black Friday info. Do you have any idea of whether these deals work online or if you have to go into the store?

  19. Jane
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 08:10:49

    @jayhjay: I believe that these are in store deals. I haven’t seen links to them online. I think the online deals are different. I’ll definitely update tomorrow!

  20. Teri P.
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 09:10:29

    Just when I thought the worst was behind us, here goes Penguin shooting themselves in the foot again. I think they need to make up their mind if they want to continue in the publishing business and then move forward accordingly.

    As for Simon Armitage, he obviously feels threatened by the ebook world. Most business people take the bull by the horns, adjust, and go back to making money. The more they spew, the less credible they sound. Take Penguin for example…..

  21. lisabookworm
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 09:49:46

    I discovered most of my favorite authors in my library. I truly don’t understand why publishers are being so short-sighted. Not only were they losing sales when the Agency model went into effect (because I won’t pay print price for a digital book), but now they’re discouraging me from trying out authors who are new to me?

  22. Mikaela
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 11:13:43

    Well, Penguin, if you are worried about piracy may I suggest that you consider watermarking your books? Since that would make it possible to track the uploaders?

    Actually, I wish more publishers would consider watermarking. Since it is a kind of DRM, but it is much more flexible, yet much harder to get rid off.

  23. Jane
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 11:14:37

    @Mikaela: I fully endorse social DRM.

  24. Amy Kathryn
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 09:40:26

    The Penguin books are back for kindle on my library’s page today…public outcry or mistake?

  25. Jane
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 09:43:22

    @Amy Kathryn: I’m not sure but I just saw this come in my inbox from Overdrive:

    http://overdriveblogs.com/library/

    Get for Kindle’ for all Penguin eBooks in your catalog has been restored as of this morning. Penguin titles are available for check out by Kindle users and the Kindle format will be available for patrons who are currently on a waiting list for a Penguin title. This does not affect new releases, which remain unavailable.
    We apologize for the inconvenience this caused for your library and patrons.

    At this time, no further information is available. We hope to share more details in the near future.

  26. Amy Kathryn
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 09:47:58

    I wonder if there was an issue about leaving up the ePubs while specifically removing the kindle link.

    I feel under pressure to check out every ebook I ever thought about before they all go away! I hope the family understands if I bury myself in my reading chair for the holiday weekend.

  27. Jane
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 09:49:33

    @Amy Kathryn: What someone was saying over at the Amazon boards (someone who sat on a library board) was that the library has format agnostic revocable licenses so I wonder that Penguin either had to pull all their books rather than dictating format for those licenses that they had been paid for in the past. I don’t know. There is a lot that is unknown at this point.

  28. Brian
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 09:58:04

    From Overdrive’s Library blog…

    “Penguin eBook titles for lending to Kindle restored
    November 23rd, 2011 Brianne Carlon

    ‘Get for Kindle’ for all Penguin eBooks in your catalog has been restored as of this morning. Penguin titles are available for check out by Kindle users and the Kindle format will be available for patrons who are currently on a waiting list for a Penguin title. This does not affect new releases, which remain unavailable.

    We apologize for the inconvenience this caused for your library and patrons.

    At this time, no further information is available. We hope to share more details in the near future.”

    http://overdriveblogs.com/library/

  29. Publishers, It’s Your Move - Dear Author
    Dec 04, 2011 @ 04:01:21

    […] in November, Penguin disabled all the Kindle library lending options through Overdrive, was upset that the Kindle lending […]

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