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In Reversal, Major Publisher to Offer E-Books to Some City Libraries

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One of the largest book publishers will allow the Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries to begin lending its e-books under a pilot program this August.

Penguin Group, in a reversal of its e-book policy, will supply libraries with digital versions of bestsellers like Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts novels, among 15,000 others. Until now, it has been one of four major publishers that refused to lend their titles.

"This deal begins to reverse a trend that was going in the opposite and wrong direction, where publishers were withdrawing from making titles available to libraries to lend," said Anthony Marks, President of the New York Public Library system.

But those hoping to check out a new Penguin bestseller will have to wait — because there will be a six month delay before they’re available to libraries.

The e-books also will only stay in the libraries’ collections for one year. After that, the libraries will need to repurchase them.

A spokeswoman for the Queens Public Library — the other New York library system — hopes to participate, but said a decision would be made after an expected funding cut in the upcoming city budget.

Last April, the Central Library in Queens became the first in New York City to start lending e-readers to patrons.

Digital books are the fastest growing area of publishing, and libraries are seeing a surge in demand for e-book titles — but finding an e-book can be tough. Listen to why here:

A list of publishers and their e-lending policies:

Publisher Notable books Lending policy
Random House A Game of Thrones, The Audacity of Hope, The Shining, Beloved, The DaVinci Code Libraries may lend all available e-books and audiobooks. On March 1, the publisher doubled and tripled prices on e-books for libraries. “Eisenhower in War and Peace” now costs $120 for a library to add to its collection, up from $40, according to the American Library Association. Amazon sells the e-book for $20. Source: ALA
HarperCollins Going Rogue, The Alchemist, Game Change, To Kill a Mockingbird, American Gods Libraries may lend all available e-books and audiobooks. After a library lends an e-book 26 times, the title disappears from its collection, but must be repurchased after 26 uses. There are no caps on audiobooks. The Library Journal reports that, as of February, no HarperCollins e-books in the New York Public Library system have reached this limit. Source: HarperCollins
Penguin Group The Grapes of Wrath, On the Road, The Witness, The Help, The Kite Runner Two New York library systems can begin lending Penguin titles in August under a pilot program. Books will need to be repurchased after a year, and new titles will take six months to become available. In February, Penguin had disallowed library lending any new lending. Source: Penguin Group
MacMillan Ender’s Game, Night, Freedom, Middlesex, Another Piece of My Heart, The South Beach Diet Libraries may not lend the publisher’s e-books. MacMillan does allow lending of its audio books. Source: ALA
Hachette The Catcher in the Rye, Twilight, The Notebook, I Am America (And So Can You!) Libraries may lend Hachette e-books published before April 2010 and all audio books. No e-books published after April 2010 are available. Source: Hachette
Simon and Schuster Steve Jobs, Executive Power, Farewell to Arms, The Lost Years, The White Tiger Libraries may not lend the publisher’s e-books. Simon & Schuster does allow lending of audio books. Source: Simon and Schuster