E-Books – It’s Complicated

Posted: February 11, 2014 in E-Book Platforms, eBooks, eLearning
Tags: , , , , , ,

E-books…  As a Teacher Librarian we are all under pressure to move into the E-book arena but should we really be spending our budget on an invisible resource rather than keeping the shelves stacked with the latest fiction that we know our customers want?

E-Books do take a huge investment in time and money.  OverDrive takes a huge $3000 out of the budget and that is before you buy even a single title.  You have to shop around as each supplier doesn’t supply every book.  Many of the students favourite books are not even hosted on OverDrive or any other platform.  A quote from the link below…

Many books, like those by uber-popular teen novelist John Green, aren’t available through OverDrive. Since Penguin pulled out of OverDrive, books, including Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why (Penguin, 2007) and Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012), aren’t offered there. Despite Penguin’s recent merger with Random House to form Penguin Random, the publishers’ lending terms with libraries aren’t in sync. Random House currently offers ebooks to libraries through 3M, Baker & Taylor, Follett, and OverDrive. “Penguin Random House will eventually have unified library sales terms and practices,” says Penguin Random spokesman Stuart Applebaum.

 OverDrive doesn’t carry J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye (Little, Brown, 1951) and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (J.B. Lippincott, 1960), so students use hard copies of those classics. OverDrive doesn’t offer “The Hunger Games” series (Scholastic), but Follett does. However, availability changes, says Straube. “The available titles are often in flux.”

 When Stevenson and New Trier librarians looked at which of their top 10 circulating items—including books and devices—were available in e-format, they discovered that only some were on Follett or Overdrive—and many on neither.  http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2013/09/ebooks/e-its-complicated-how-two-schools-are-riding-the-transition-to-ebooks/

The other thing that puts many of us off is the cost of each title.  For fiction the E-book version often costs more than buying the paperback and some platforms limit the ownership life of the title by time or number of loans.

As wily librarians we all know that we can keep a popular book in circulation for years with the judicious help of book tape and TLC.

So what are the choices?  So far for the Australian market I would go with EBL as a first foray into the E-Book world.  Why?  EBL allow multiple students to borrow a single copy of an e-book simultaneously.  An EBL E-book can be borrowed up to 325 days per year.  This is a much better model than OverDrive where one copy one loan at a time makes it just like a paper copy.  Worse on Overdrive once the book has been downloaded it is unavailable until it has timed out of the loan so books are tied up for much longer than perhaps necessary.  Also EBL doesn’t require a platform or setup charge if you want to start small.

The other way to deal with the E-Book issue is to do what all successful business do and “outsource”, well not exactly but what I mean is get someone else to supply them.  Most council libraries supply E-Books and audiobooks via Overdrive and Bolinda and promoting their services will not only please your budget but also the local library as they want more clients.

As a librarian I have the local library sites book marked and when asked by the students about a book I check our catalogue first and if not in ours I check the local library and also put the book on our wish list.

Some school library catalogues even let you link to the council library catalogue so that students can search both at once!

If you have the budget to spend then take a look at this list of E-book suppliers http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2013/09/ebooks/sljs-school-ebook-market-directory/  It is US based so not all of them will supply to Australia.

And this very helpful article on getting into e-books http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/04/ebooks/an-ebook-primer-many-small-libraries-are-still-just-getting-started-with-ebooks-heres-a-helpful-guide-on-those-first-steps/

Happy Reading


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