Penguin pulls new e-books from library distributor, citing concerns over security

OverDrive's e-book universe got a little colder this week, thanks to Penguin. Citing "new concerns about the security of our digital editions," Penguin USA temporarily pulled its new titles from the distributor's stable of library e-books yesterday, pending further discussions with its business partners. The publisher didn't offer a concrete reason for its pullout, but issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to its business partners, and reassuring readers that physical copies of its new books will remain available across "libraries everywhere." OverDrive, which powers Amazon's Kindle Library Lending Service, soon issued its own statement, providing more insight into the conflict:

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.

This kerfuffle hasn't gone over too well with some libraries. In an e-mail sent to the Digital Shift, Cynthia Laino of the C/W Mars Library Consortium lamented the turn of events -- and the fact that her organization was left in the dark. "Neither Penguin nor OverDrive made any sort of announcement to library staff regarding this issue," wrote Laino, whose consortium represents more than 150 libraries across the US. "We have bought many additional copies of our most popular titles simply to meet the increased demand for them once Kindle users were added to our borrowers. We would not have spent the additional funds (thousands of dollars) had we known this issue would arise." Laino went on to express her hope for a quick resolution, suggesting that the involved parties should at least provide some compensation for the sudden withdrawal. We'll be following this story as it develops, and will be sure to bring you the very latest.