Spooked by the possibility of piracy, one publisher has removed its ebooks from libraries' digital shelves, including Kindle editions.

Penguin Group USA cited "concerns about the security of our digital editions" in a statement to Library Journal's Digital Shift blog. The publisher didn't elaborate on its concerns, but said it's "working closely with our business partners and the library community to forge a distribution model that is secure and viable."

Library ebook limitations

In other words, Penguin wants to make sure that library ebooks can't be easily stripped of DRM and kept by the borrower without penalty. Overdrive, the largest distributor of library ebooks says it hopes to restore access soon, but it's not clear what kind of anti-piracy solution Penguin Group seeks.

Amazon began supporting a Kindle ebook library in September. Users can go to Overdrive's website, find an e-book from a local library, and select "Send to Kindle." From Amazon's Website, users can then send the ebook to any Kindle location, including smartphones, tablets, computers, or ereaders.

Most publishers won't lend ebooks

It's great when it works, but library ebook selections are limited by the number of licenses the library has. Moreover, the concept of lending ebooks stands on shaky ground with major US publishers, as PaidContent points out.

Macmillan and Simon & Schuster don't lend ebooks at all, and Hachette doesn't allow new books to be borrowed. HarperCollins requires libraries to buy a new copy after an ebook has been borrowed 26 times. Random House is the only major publisher that allows unrestricted access to its ebooks through libraries. Penguin's sudden withdrawal from library ebook lending - even if temporary - underscores how publishers aren't eager to let libraries enter the digital age.