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Penguin Petulance

Marydee Ojala @ 8:35 am

Paid Content has an interesting post today about why Penguin might have decided to pull its ebook titles from libraries. Laura Hazard Owen speculates that Penguin is retaliating against Amazon’s Kindle deal with OverDrive, that it’s worried about people checking out ebooks from libraries not in their geographic area (she claims to have 4 valid library cards for 4 different public libraries in 4 different places), and that it’s concerned that library lending will cut into sales. The latter is absurd, as the model of the public library buying and lending out books is more than well established!

There will be a lot written about the Penguin decision, both from the publisher perspective and the library perspective. What struck me about Owen’s piece is her calm analysis. What surprised me is her possession of 4 library cards.

The Penguin dustup also gives me the opportunity to give this blog’s readers a heads up that ONLINE will have a new columnist starting with the January/February 2012 issue. It’s called EBook Buzz and will be written by Sue Polanka, an expert on ebooks and blogger at No Shelf Required. In fact, her blog post yesterday on the Penguin situation lists several URLs where other commentary on the situation can be found.

I’m very excited to have Sue as an ONLINE columnist!


  1. Having four library cards is not surprising and it’s actually very easy to do. Many libraries offer cards to non-residents and all they have to do is pay a yearly fee to have a valid card. If she’s willing to spend the money, there is nothing stopping her from possessing four (or more) cards.

    If she’s holding that up as a example of how people are ripping off publishers, it is a very poor example.

    Comment by James S. — November 23, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  2. I think what intrigued me was the way she described how she had 4 library cards, none of which involved spending money. It revolved around previous places where she had had a legal residence bu no longer lives.

    Comment by Marydee Ojala — November 23, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  3. I think the qualifier there is “as far as she knows.” Odds are that those cards are, just that, physical cards and, if she tried to use them, would turn up as dead accounts. Physically possessing cards is easy. It’s just really weird how she’s trying to bring this up as if to prove some point.

    I’ve got a bunch of old canceled credit cards too but that doesn’t mean that I can just walk into any store and use them. The whole argument she is trying to make is so flawed to almost be laughable until you realize that these people have no idea whatsoever on how libraries work.

    Comment by James S. — November 23, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

  4. And… war is over. Kindle access is restored to Penguin titles but they’re still sticking to their guns about holding back the release dates of their new titles in e-book format.

    Comment by James S. — November 23, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

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