We previously mentioned Penguin’s decision to stop making new e-book titles available to libraries in the USA and the UK. The Digital Shift reports that decision extends to downloadable digital audiobooks as well. A message from Overdrive yesterday explains this applies to audiobook titles released after 11/14/2011. In an apparently unrelated move, Amazon-owned BrillianceAudio will also stop offering downloadable audiobook titles.

It’s not clear exactly why Penguin is doing this. The reason the company gave for its e-book restrictions was “concerns about the security of the copyright of its authors.” It has not given any explanation for this audiobook restriction. As Laura Hazard Owen notes on PaidContent, frustrated library patrons are significantly less likely to buy an audiobook if they can’t check it out, given how much more expensive audiobooks are than e-books or hardcovers.

Regardless, this is not going to make it any easier for libraries to meet all their patrons’ needs in the digital age.


  1. I know lots of people who listen to audiobooks every day…I’m one of them. If Penguin thinks this latest dumb move will force me to purchase their audiobooks, they’re wrong–really, really wrong.

    Audiobooks are way too expensive for a “buy-without-try” business model. If I can’t listen to Penguin books that I borrow from the library, then I just won’t be listening to Penguin audiobooks…period.

  2. I have to agree with January. I don’t listen to too many audiobooks, but my dad does. He was an avid reader until he lost most of his sight a year and a half ago. Audio books let him continue to enjoy books. Not offering audiobooks will not encourage my dad to get dead tree books, because he cannot rea them.

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