Penguin Books Rips the Carpet out from eBook Library Patrons

Penguin Books Rips the Carpet out from eBook Library Patrons

It’s no secret that publishers hate library ebooks. Essentially they are everything publishers hate about ebooks in one place; the cost is zero (once you have an ebook reader), and libraries don’t have to replace them due to wear and tear. According to The Verge, Penguin previously pulled all their support for Overdrive-powered library lending, and it looks like any books they are making available have an extra requirement-you must download them to a computer, then sideload them to a Kindle (or NOOK, or Kobo, etc.) It doesn’t sound too terrible until you read this email from a Gear Diary reader:

 I just tried to get a book.  I was successfully able to check it out in Overdrive, but am unable to download it from the Amazon website. It appears that Amazon and Penguin Publishing are now forcing people to buy a physical Kindle, then connect to a USB port to download the book from a computer. The various Kindle readers, such as iPad, Android, and Kindle for Mac will not work, even via USB.

Very frustrating!

As if that’s not frustrating enough, this was the follow-up email from the same reader:

I just spent the better part of an hour with Amazon customer support. The book shows up in my Overdrive Public Library as checked out, and it shows up on the Amazon website. The Amazon website shows that I can’t download it as I don’t have a physical Kindle. Worse yet, I can’t even return the book. Since I don’t have a physical Kindle to attach via USB, then the book won’t show up in my library. Even Amazon can’t return the book since it won’t show up in my Library unless I go buy a Kindle.

Think we can start a boycott of Penguin… I’ll be first in line!!
 This is really unfortunate. Overdrive and Amazon made a big deal out of their wireless library downloading (as has Sony) and if that’s no longer the case, it removes a big benefit that gives readers access to ebooks! All this does is make it slightly more difficult to access library books. Sideloading a Kindle book has no technical security over sending it wirelessly, there’s no extra tracking or any other benefit. It is solely to discourage someone from borrowing, or to limit borrowers entirely to physical Kindle users, cutting out tablet and smartphone readers.
Interestingly, Amazon does acknowledge this (sort of) on their library lending pageNote: Public library books can be sent wirelessly to Kindle devices via an active Wi-Fi connection or transferred via USB. Due to publisher restrictions, some titles may not be wirelessly delivered to your device and instead require USB transfer from your computer to your device. These restricted titles also may not be accessed on Kindle reading applications.
Really helpful, since they don’t appear to break out the eligible titles from the ineligible ones! I can’t imagine Amazon is in a hurry to fix this any more than Penguin is, since Amazon offers this as a courtesy that doesn’t make them any direct sales. Have you encountered issues with library titles and odd restrictions? Any tips for our reader who is stuck with a library book that can’t be read or returned? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

1 Comment on "Penguin Books Rips the Carpet out from eBook Library Patrons"

  1. Allan Lindgren | February 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    I had the same experience. Tech guys at the Library tell me Penguin wont allow Libraries to exchange for epub. They are really ripping off the tax payer 

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