Publisher Penguin Pulls Titles from eBook Lending Program

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dgrmouse

I am, personally, very much hoping that Overdrive will fail horribly. Losing publisher support is a good start.

We can all see very plainly that printed books are going to eventually become a premium luxury and that digital distribution will be the norm. This is absolutely going to happen regardless of what publishers do. The publishers have a relatively short amount of time to get their affairs in order and start offering compelling services or they will be left behind with no way to regain their ground.

Overdrive is fundamentally broken because it requires a third party to manage asset localization. If we accept the axiom that all "future" books will be in an electronic format, then it would follow that all book borrowing would be tracked by this third-party commercial entity. This is unacceptable, and in many places illegal.

Another important factor is that many e-book distribution systems are built around the concept of licensing books instead of selling them. It scares the crap out of me that we would move in a direction where some corporate or government agency could retroactively alter the contents of a book and push said changes to all outstanding copies without even drawing notice. Two legs bad, four legs good.

Combining the lack of privacy, the risk of having multiple parties controlling access to information, and the outright inability of anyone to own books, the path publishers are currently choosing is one that will surely cause their own destruction. As a result, libraries are going to start destructively converting their hard-copy volumes and distributing the electronic reproductions according to local custom. It's going to be great, and publishers will have nobody to blame but themselves.

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Eoraptor

said the person who apparently has been living under a rock for the past decade and completely ignoring the music industry doing exactly all of those things vis-a-vis RIAA and Apple.

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dgrmouse

@ Eoraptor: Eh? I may not be the hippest guy around, but I do own an iPhone. I don't understand the correlation that you're alluding to. Please educate me.

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Eoraptor

you state that the major publishers, faced with an onslaught of cheap or free digital distribution methods, will succumb to market forces and either adapt, or crumble wholesale under the competition.

Yet you ignore the very real parallel of the music industry, which has been faced with this very same reality since Napster was born in 1999. And yet, they have utterly failed to crumble, nor have they actually done much to proactively change their business model beyond suing both copyright infringers and legitimate digital competition out of business. the only change in the music industry since 1999 is that individual music sellers went extinct and big box chains took over wholesale physical distribution. (which we now see in print media with magazine stands and small booksellers going under right and left)

And the Movie and TV industries have learned from the music industry's mistakes, moving quickly and decisively to block the rise of an itunes-like service in their sphere of influence the way Apple swept in dominated the digital music industry. I expect to see the same happen with digital print media, where each publishing house will end up having its own incompatible on-line service which severely limits customer freedom, and the last thing i expect to happen is for them to go out of business because they can engage the same market place controls that other industries already have mastered. In fact, with move's like Penguin's, they demonstrate that they already are.

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dgrmouse

There's a pretty huge fundamental difference - with the exception of Sony's root-kit, even the worst DRM on music is very mild compared to what we're seeing on eBooks. I suspect it is related to the fact that every eBook reader on the market has WiFi or 3G connectivity, while MP3 players generally don't. At present, most digitally-distributed music has zero DRM. An eBook, however, is bound to Overdrive and its publisher. Your library can't lend you a book without getting Overdrive involved and because the eBook was licensed instead of purchased, the license can be revoked. The scenario this control of information depicts is too close to one of burning books, and it's deeply offensive to many people - much more so than other forms of DRM. Video games can thus far get away with ridiculous DRM measures, but people are going to fight for the books. I guess we'll see.

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gmvolk

I don't see how lending/borrowing an eBook is really any different than a physical book. I could photo copy a regular book just as easy as emailing everyone an eBook. Would I, no, but I could. eBooks are the future, no it will never completely replace physical books, but they will eventually become the standard. Publishers should get on board now, and lay the ground work so everything is good for both consumers and publishers. We need one common eBook format so if I have a Kindle or a Nook or a whatever that comes out, I can continue to read all the eBooks I currently own. Until/unless the publishers get together, this won't happen. And they need to do it in a way where DRM does not rear it's ugly head.

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ubuwalker31

So, while no new Penguin titles will be added, old Penguin titles will be available, BUT there is no over-the-air Wi-fi download support to Kindles: http://www.libraries.wright.edu/noshelfrequired/2012/02/09/articles-of-interest-penguin-overdrive-and-libraries/

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HiGHRoLLeR038

And this is why there is piracy.

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Ghok

Yikes.

Just as e-readers are really starting to take off.

If customers don't have an easy way to lend your books, then they will create one... and then there will be nothing you can do about it.

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jonnyohio

Once again, ignorance and stupidity prevail.

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jaxsteven

"They preferred a system wherein books would need to be downloaded to a PC, then synced to a device."

What difference does it make? Honestly its probably more theft-resistant if you can download them OTA from the device. I foresee a lot of financial hardship if Penguin can't adapt to modern sales methods.

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knipfty

The publishers were trying to make it inconvenient to borrow a book. They are requiring that you travel to the Library (twice, to pick then drop off the book) and then forcing you to download the book then sync it to your device. They are hoping that if its difficult to borrow, that you will simply buy it.

Amazon recently changed all that by allowing Libraries to use its cloud thru Overdrive to make it seamless.

The large publishers are dying dinos and they are doing everything they can to protect their turf,even if it mean alienating their customers. What really freaks them out is all the cheap books now available.

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ApathyCurve

knipfty: "The large publishers are dying dinos and they are doing everything they can to protect their turf,even if it mean alienating their customers."

Nailed it, knipfty. I amazes me that even with the example of the music industry, they fail to understand that THE OLD BUSINESS MODEL IS GONE. Dead. Finito. Stick a fork in it. Borders was just the first casualty.

Sure, we'll go through a few years of people who prefer "real" books over ebooks, and there will always be a niche market for collectors, just like people who prefer vinyl LPs and film cameras. But they are an exceedingly small minority, not the mainstream market.

Adapt or die is the reality of capitalism, and it is sometimes a bitter pill when you've grown comfortable with The Way Things Have Always Been. We all have to adapt to changing market dynamics, regardless of our industry; technology just impacts some more than others. As Orrin Hatch once told the members of Metallica in a congressional hearing, (paraphrasing): It is not the responsibility of the government to protect your marketing model. Rather, it is your responsibility to adapt to the needs and demands of an ever-changing marketplace.

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gmvolk

I agree, most of the eBooks I have gotten so far on my Kindle Touch have been self-published in the free to 99 cent range. While some have had grammatical errors, most have been very good reads. The publishers are scared like the record companies have been. That is why they should work together with Amazon, Overdrive, and Barnes & Noble, etc and make this convenient/profitable for all. I think once an author like JK Rowling(if she ever gets the Harry Potter eBooks going!) proves that eBooks can be profitable and sold directly(aka not through Amazon or B&N) the publishers will think twice about eBook sales/lending.

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Eoraptor

I have to agree whole-heartedly... I find things on Fictionpress, Wordpress blogs, and even fanficiton.net (all free mind you) that are better written and more compelling than 90% of the dreck the big houses put out. I'm just waiting for them to decide to crush those venues the same way RIAA keeps music firmly in the hands of either Apple and/or the Pirates by refusing to "get with the times" and MPAA continually tries to destroy Google/Apple TV and Netflix.

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