Library Books
Library Books on Kindle devices have been disappearing. Image: Flickr / scriptingnews / CC-BY-SA

Libraries across the country have been using portions of their limited acquisition budgets to purchase e-books for lending to patrons. Publisher Penguin USA, however, has blocked all access to already-purchased e-books libraries were lending out.

The Kindle Library program

The Amazon Kindle library program is one that allows owners of Kindle reading devices to borrow books from their local libraries. More than 11,000 libraries have signed up for the program. The libraries pay Amazon for digital rights to the books. Customers are allowed to check out the book using their library cards, and books are downloaded via an existing Amazon account. The money the libraries pay Amazon is distributed partially to Amazon and partially to the publisher, who is responsible for paying the author.

Penguin requests books be blocked

Book publisher Penguin USA is currently in a dispute with Amazon over the pricing and distribution of the books in the Amazon Kindle lending library. Penguin USA says “security concerns” are the root of the conflict. Penguin has asked that all versions of Kindle e-books be pulled, which means that they are no longer available and any versions, purchased or borrowed, already on Kindles simply disappeared.

American Library Association response

The response to the Penguin USA move in the Amazon dispute has been swift and severe. In a statement released today, the ALA President-elect stated:

“Penguin Group’s recent action to limit access to new e-book titles to libraries has serious ramifications. The issue for library patrons is loss of access to books, period. Once again, readers are the losers.

“If Penguin has an issue with Amazon, we ask that they deal with Amazon directly and not hold libraries hostage to a conflict of business models.

“This situation is one more log thrown onto the fire of libraries’ abilities to provide access to books – in this case titles they’ve already purchased. Penguin should restore access for library patrons now.”

Concerns about e-books

There are many differing opinions on the practice of e-book lending. Some publishers have chosen to participate in this program, while others have chosen not to. This is not the first time Amazon has been called out for making changes to e-books after they have been published, purchased and downloaded onto customer’s readers. The concern is that this ability to block access to what is essentially bought-and-paid-for material violates the property rights of consumers.

PC Magazine:,2817,2396771,00.asp

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