In a release, library vendor 3M announced that its library e-book pilot with Penguin has gone live. Under the deal, patrons at the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library will now be able to check out a selection of Penguin titles via the 3M Cloud Library eBook Lending Service. The e-books will be available under a one year license with renewable terms, and will not include new books until six months after publication. The e-books will be available on a number of devices and operating systems—including PCs, iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) Nooks and Android devices—notably, not the Kindle.
The program with 3M comes after Penguin pulled its digital titles from OverDrive in November 2011, citing “security concerns.” It soon became clear that Penguin was uncomfortable with OverDrive’s program that enabled Kindle lending, and by February 2012, Penguin had cut ties entirely with the vendor, and stopped lending e-books to libraries altogether.
Although the pilot, which was announced in June, just before the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, was said to be a year-long pilot, a 3M release said that Penguin content could be “available to all 3M Cloud Library customers by the end of the year.”
Of course, if you want to offer Peguin content, your library now has to sign up with 3M, which launched its nascent e-lending service in June of 2011, and now offers roughly 200,000 titles from some 300 publishers. The 3M release notes that Cloud Library customers “now numbers more than 70.” OverDrive, the major player in the field, meanwhile, boasts “a network of 18,000 libraries” as its customer base. And while librarians are happy to have a competitor in the e-lending game, and to be able to offer Penguin titles, the program does raise the specter of having to sign up with multiple, exclusive vendors to get different publisher content, as well as having to redesign the e-book lending page on the library Web Site, and to explain to users why they will have to download multiple plug-ins to use books from different publishers.