What’s Behind Penguin’s Security Concerns?

Like many of you, we have wondered what Penguin means by saying they are re-evaluating lending eBooks via libraries because of “security risks.” We’ve asked Penguin to explain why library lending is more of a threat than selling through bookstores, but have not yet received a response.

In the absence of information, speculation is rife. In a story for Publishers Weekly, Andrew Albanese suggested that another issue might be at work,

OverDrive’s David Burleigh told PW there was no incident he was aware of at OverDrive where the “security” of any titles has been questioned or compromised, fueling speculation that Penguin’s actions may be directed at Amazon, which recently drew the ire of authors, agents, and publishers with the launch of its Amazon Prime lending model.

The tech news site, The Register, also sees the situation that way. In a story dramatically headlined, “Penguin pulls its eBooks off library shelves — Fed up with Amazon giving away its stuff for free” they speculated,

The move could be a swipe at Amazon, which has been giving out Penguin books for free on Kindle against the wishes of the publisher.

For more on that issue, read the 11/14 statement from The Authors Guild, “Contracts on Fire: Amazon’s Lending Library Mess.”

[UPDATE: It appears The Register has it wrong. Neither Penguin’s, nor any of the other Big Six publishers’ titles are included in Amazon’s Lending Library, since they all sell to Amazon via the agency model, which prohibits lending.]

Meanwhile, a Forbes reporter notes the potential effect on Amazon,

It will be interesting to see Amazon e-reader competitors Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony might stand to benefit if Kindle lending is specifically stopped by more publishers.

At one point, Kindle was the only eReader that did not offer library borrowing. Publishers could effectively put Amazon back in that position.

Libraries may be caught in a battle that is not of their own making.

One Response to “What’s Behind Penguin’s Security Concerns?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Libraries need to get together and say we’re not going to purchase ANYTHING — print, audio, anything — from the publishers that won’t sell us e-books. If enough of us actually had the cojones to do it — and crafted an effective message to get our patrons on board — we could end this ridiculous situation in short order.