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Penguin to extend ebook and audiobook lending across US libraries with new distribution deals

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Harry Potter ebooks
Harry Potter ebooks

Penguin is reportedly planning to announce a new distribution program for ebook lending on Monday. According to the New York Times, the publishing giant will work with the distributor Baker & Taylor to start lending ebooks at libraries in Los Angeles and Cleveland. Penguin has been testing a similar program in New York since September, but pulled out of a wider deal with OverDrive in February over a DRM dispute. The company also plans to start lending downloadable audiobooks to "any library that is interested" through a deal with OneClickdigital.

The new ebook expansion is said to include the same anachronistic lending terms as the current New York trials: books become available for lending six months after release, they can only be borrowed by one person at a time, and the library has to buy a new "copy" every year. Ebook lending is still a thorny issue for libraries and publishers alike, and while Penguin is at least displaying some commitment to expanding its program, the move into just two further cities is unlikely to do much to boost low adoption rates among e-reader owners.