By the end of winter, popular titles like No Easy Day and Winter of the World could be hitting a library e-bookshelf near you.
According to an announcement from library e-books provider 3M, Penguin e-books will be sold to all customers using the 3M Cloud Library by the end of the year. In June, when the program was first announced, Penguin said that if the program is successful, it could be rolled out nationwide.
Penguin is the publisher of current e-book best-sellers No Easy Day, a Navy Seal’s account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and Winter of the World, the second book in Ken Follett’s popular Century Trilogy.
Currently, Penguin e-books are only available to customers of the New York and Brooklyn public libraries, which are being used by Penguin as a testing ground for a pilot program the publisher has launched for e-book library lending. Until this pilot program, which started last month, Penguin was one of several large publishers that did not sell e-books to libraries.
“Penguin content is expected to be available to all 3M Cloud Library customers by the end of the year,” said the release.
The release also stipulated that Penguin would be selling books to libraries with one-year licenses that were renewable. The two other major publishers that make all their e-books available to libraries — Random House and HarperCollins — do so with similar stipulations. Random House charges roughly 300% more than the price consumers pay for its e-books and HarperCollins allows its titles to be borrowed 26 times before the license must be renewed. Librarians have typically bristled at such limitations.
When it announced its pilot, Penguin also stipulated that its e-books would be available six months after initial publication.
At a public meeting last week between publishers and the American Library Association, the ALA’s president Maureen Sullivan repeatedly called for “equitable use at a reasonable price,” a phrase which was clearly aimed at Random House’s higher prices. Hachette, which makes its back-list available to libraries, recently raised the prices on those books by an average of 104%.
Penguin has not yet returned request for comment.
This development comes against the backdrop of brewing tensions between publishers and librarians, released last week through crossing angry public letters between the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers and a public meeting where the latter association hosted the former along with about 100 publishers.
At the end of the year, Penguin will join HarperCollins and Random House as the three major publishers to allow libraries to purchase all of their e-book list. Hachette and Macmillan are currently engaging in pilot programs to test library e-book lending and Simon & Schuster does not currently make its e-books available to libraries.
(Hat-tip to infoDOCKET, which alerted Digital Book World to the story. Parts of this story were originally reported by Library Journal.)