back to article Penguin pulls its e-books off library shelves

A new "security concern" has forced the British book publisher Penguin to stop making electronic editions of its new books available to American libraries. Penguin has also banned the libraries from loaning existing Penguin e-books on their shelves to Kindle owners. Although Penguin isn't stating the specifics, it is believed …


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  1. Greg J Preece

    What about Sony? Their new readers let you borrow from UK libraries. Would that include Penguin books?

  2. DrXym

    Isnt't it easy to rip books anyway?

    I thought Kindle's DRM has been cracked for a long time. And Adobe Digital Editions too.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Paperbacks, at least, yes.

      You just take half in each hand and pull

    2. KroSha

      All ebook DRM has been cracked. They don't really update it anyway because that would require software updates. I know Adobe was cracked about 2 years ago.

  3. Semaj

    Publishers - the new MPAA

    Welcome to the club guys, pull up a chair.

    Or you could maybe embrace the new technology and give up on your stranglehold rather than be obliterated?


    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      The old MPAA you mean

      The reason for the statute of Anne was exactly that - the publishers owned everything perpetually. Just in those days it was called the Stationers company and it did not have to buy congresscritters and MPs to get its way to prolong the life support of a certain rodent. It had its monopoly granted perpetually by Bloody Mary 200 years earlier.

    2. Hollerith 1

      embrace the new technology?

      Wouldn't embracing it = being obliterated?

      As a published author myself, I love arguments about why my work should be available for free. Even new friends will say 'I've love to read your book, can you give one to me?' as if I happily dole out copies (which I got where? who went to the cost to print hem?), because my work is worth nothing and I love to give it away free to people who expect wages for theirs, for the sake of a few words of prase.

      Publishers aren't necessarily bad guys. They often loyally carry authors who will take several books to come to full bloom, or who they feel are critically important, but not bestsellers. Some are sharks, but some are dedicated to books and writers, and do a job that gets harder as first bookstore chains and then online books sellers squeeze the life out of them.

      Amazon etc did not honour their contracts. It's not unreasonable for Penguin to do what it did.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge


        Presumably, as a published author, you rely on proof readers.

    3. Stevie


      It's about the author's income. Everyone has to eat.

      Or are you one of those "breatharians" who claim to live on air alone?

    4. Sean Baggaley 1


      If Amazon are offering a private company's products for free AGAINST THEIR EXPRESS WISHES, how is this "the new MPAA"?

      The article makes it crystal clear that Penguin had no problem with their books being virtually loaned out.

      Amazon are being very, very naughty here. Nothing more.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Penguin is somewhat of a British institution. It grates to hear it described as a "US Publisher."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In fairness,

      It doesn't grate quite as hard as the Americanism, "Somewhat of a ..."

    2. Tom 38

      Particularly as their (Penguin Books) HQ is about a mile away down the road in Westminster...

    3. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Parent group in UK?

      Pearson's HQ is in London

    4. rpjs

      Especially as

      Penguin is owned by Pearson, which is a British company - part of the FTSE 100 in fact.

    5. h 2

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The publishers clearly learned nothing from the record industry. As Gabe Newell correctly points out,t he path to success is to provide a better service than the pirates.

    As an unreconstructed bibliophile, I wince at this idiocy and the implied self-inflicted doom.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      provide a better service than the pirates?

      you mean at a price near enough to zero that people won't think anything of avoiding downloading it for free?

      personally i think that's the only possible outcome of honesty box economics.

      i do feel, with respect, that you and everyone else (yes you too, you may be an imperfect entity) hasn't thought this through properly. the only ones who have (imho) are those who realise forcing ISPs to take all measures necessary, is the only possible path.

      1. David Dawson

        you mean at a price near enough to zero that people won't think anything of avoiding downloading it for free?


        I think I agree with the post above. Its not a rush to the bottom.

        The biggest problem with the music industry when napster came of age was that you couldn't download a track and play it on an MP3 player, or on winamp (remember!) without jumping through loads of hoops, if you could get it at all.

        It was a pain in the rear to do.

        Napster and its ilk were much, much easier.

        I happily downloaded music when I wanted it, as it was easy. Every so often I bought an album of a band I liked, but never singles. What would be the point?

        Now, however, I buy all my music. I have a spotify subscription for my daily rock fix, and then I buy all music I actually want on the various online shops (I'm a bit of a tart when it comes to that).

        The point is, its now easy. Very easy, to buy music, so I do. I'm sure that I will be getting the real thing, at a proper quality (I know about spotify, don't go on). P2P downloading is now harder than buying it, and the product is not of the same guaranteed quality, so, they've made a better service.

        I think this is what the above poster was getting at. Its not a rush to the bottom (although some will always be cheap to the point of being criminal). It needs to be a rush to the top. If I want to read a book on my phone, let me do it and charge me for a top quality experience. I'll pay, i think most other people would do too.

        Its about charging people to do what _they want to do_.

        The basic premise of business, in fact.

      2. Miek

        "are those who realise forcing ISPs to take all measures necessary, is the only possible path."

        Sorry, which Government Department do you work for again AC?

  6. JMB


    The British libraries that I have seen loaning eBooks have the Kindle down as US Libraries only.

  7. Armando 123

    Wondered when this would happen

    When we heard about library loans on a Kindle, we tried it and found that the book was still there LONG after it was supposed to be gone. I figured if it happened once, inadvertently, it would be easy to subvert the protocol and it would get hacked soon. Then of course publishers would pull out, and there y'go.

  8. TalesOfaFlaneur

    Pearson makes all of its money in the USA

    Although HQ at 80 Strand in London, the technology and the profits come from the USA - particularly from the education division and those healthy profits on textbooks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I work for Pearson. They make their money all over the world. They've just forked out a metric fuckton of cash for some educational outfit in China. And if you knew anything about some of the creaking home-brewed technology we're still using...

      The bloody Mgt are clearly US-influenced, though, which explains why our freshly-minted self-appraisal forms are completely incomprehensible. WTF pray does "breaking down silos" have to do with being a Babbage-Engine driver?

      Posted anonymously for obvious reasons.

  9. Blubster

    P p p p p p

    Pack up a Penguin

  10. Mectron

    a new enemy

    Current enemy of the planet: (they destroy more lives then any terrorist group)

    1. MPAA

    2. RIAA

    3. Comming soon: Penguin

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re a new enemy

      i see, so those who are given a tough time after stealing stuff, are having their lives destroyed.

      whereas producers of music and film and literature who lose their incomes, are just happy as fuck?

      shurely shome mishtake?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait til the freetards put the stuff on pirate bay

    Then the publishers will be really fucked.

    That's why digital books can't work.

    It'll be the same 'honesty box economics' which have fucked the music and film industries.

    paper books forever!

  12. DF118

    It saddens me to see so many comments hostile to Penguin here. Granted, they *are* the old guard, and they *are* representative of an industry likely to die on its feet through inability to act in the face of extreme circumstantial change, but do you really think Amazon is the good guy in this?

  13. TheTallGuy

    As a former employee of Pearson's IT dept, sorry what's the problem they need the money, thousands of employees and authors, they own the Financial Times would you steal that from the newsagent too? They're one of the biggest educational publishers in the world or do you think University students should only read old works and researchers should starve? Freetards of the world need to understand their actions.

  14. Wombling_Free


    You mean people can read our books FOR FREE? WITHOUT PAYING?


    oh. wait...

    Why are Penguin worried? As long as they keep printing books with orange covers, vain hipsters will keep buying them!

  15. Eric Hood


    I buy a lot of ebooks. I have stopped buying paper books if possible. I am happy to buy the DRMd books as I know I can strip the drm if the company goes titsup. I make 3 backup copies of all my purchases.

    The things I like about ebooks is they are generally cheaper than paper copies. I now spend more money on books than I did with hard copies and I get more for my money.

    I would really like a service where I could send my paper copies to the publisher and receive an ebook instead. The publisher could then have a large secondhand sale for the luddites still reading by the light of oil lamps.

    And now to be on topic, if Amazon has gone against the wishes of the publisher then too bad for them. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

    1. KroSha

      I'm about to be in your position.

      I currently buy a lot of books, and it's got to stop because, quite frankly, I don't have the space any more. Being someone who likes big fantasy sagas, 3000 pages on a single story soon adds up to a lot of shelf space.

      The only thing really holding me back is having to repurchase all my favourites as ebooks. I really want to go the whole hog and only have 2 series as paper copies; Wheel of Time and Discworld. But that means either spending a frakkin' enormous amount of money or P2P'ing a lot. And some of them aren't available (I've looked) for purchase.

      The Publishing Industry really, really, needs to sort themselves out to deal with the new age of digital consumerism, just as the Music & Film Biz did 10 years ago. If they sort it out right the first time, they can save themselves a lot of pain.

      I fully support paying authors for their work. I read a lot and I am friends with a couple of pro writers. But when ebooks are more expensive than print, then something is clearly wrong.


      I know that it includes VAT; that's something that needs to be addressed separately. But even then, the ebook is only £1 cheaper than the hardback. Given that good chunk of the costs are involved with the production and distribution, there are clearly saving to be made.

      The Publishers set the pricing, and they need to have a really hard think about how they want this market to mature. At the moment, they are just perpetuating the status quo; giving the distributors the leverage to sell the books. Publishers, and authors, should be punting the books themselves and allowing grass-roots to bring authors to prominence, rather than trying to pay for internet publicity. Interesting small piece on it from 10 years ago:

  16. CoffeeFueled
    Thumb Down


    Quite a few seem to be claiming that it's the publisher's responsibility to provide a better service than the pirates, so that people can acquire the books more easily legally than they can by illegally getting them on a torrent.

    Now I may be getting the wrong end of the stick here, but I've always found it much, much easier and more convenient (on both my Kindle and my old Sony eReader) to buy the book through the book stores provided than it would ever have been to track down a torrent, check it, check it again, download, extract, and load it on.

    So the publishers are providing their books easily, fairly cheap (cheaper than hardcopies in the vast majority of cases) and conveniently. What's there to complain about? You want to borrow a book, go to the library. Want to buy an ebook, it's not difficult. Want to borrow an ebook for free because you're entitled to do so since you're such a special person? Sod off.

    1. dvd

      Try to read one of your Kindle books on your Sony. Then come back and tell me how much easier it is.

  17. Bob McBob

    Hardly Surprising

    As a former employee of Penguin this is hardly surprising, the relationship with Amazon has been getting progressively worse, ever since Penguin backed Sony's e-reader and the EPUB format back in 08.

    They then had to backtrack and start to produce azw content as they realized that the Kindle wasn't going to go away...

    And El Reg get your facts straight, Penguin is a UK Publisher, it's the US division that's involved in the dispute with Amazon.

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