Have you ever read an eBook? If you have, you’re in the rapidly growing minority. In 2013, 28% of adults read an eBook, up from 22% in 2012 [eReading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps]. An even greater percentage of kids, 46% in 2012, have read an eBook [Kids & Family Reading Report]. So while print books remain the preferred format at the moment, eBooks are making a significant impact on readership. Increasingly, library patrons of all ages expect their libraries to carry eBooks.
What is an eBook?
On the surface, it seems like a simple question. An eBook is simply a digital book. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that because they are digital, eBooks are more complex. The digital licensing restrictions added by publishers can affect:
- how many people can read or download the eBook
- what types of devices are compatible with the eBook
- whether the eBook can be shared or circulated
- whether a library can own a copy or just lease it
Keeping track of digital licenses from several publishers can quickly become complicated. As the eBook market evolves, the complexity should eventually settle down. But for now it feels a bit like the Wild West out there!
BVSD eBook Pilot
When the Ed Tech team began exploring eBooks in our district, they wanted to make sure that we were not just implementing technology for its own sake, but rather as a tool that will positively impact student reading. They decided to use a pilot to gather data that would help guide future decisions.
The pilot will run from March 3 through May 31 at 4 schools: Casey Middle, Centennial Middle, Summit Middle, and Bear Creek Elementary. Using the data collected from this pilot, the Ed Tech team will make recommendations about eBook adoption strategies. Of course, any kind of district-level eBook program would require additional, ongoing resources.
Several BVSD school libraries are already exploring various eBook models outside of the pilot. Platt Middle and Monarch High are circulating pre-loaded Nook eReaders to students. Many other schools have purchased subscriptions to web-based eBooks that students can read online. These teacher librarians are sharing their experiences and data to help us make better district-wide decisions about implementing eBooks.
What about technology?
Access to technology is always the elephant in the room when we talk about digital content. Without technology in our students’ hands, that content might as well not exist. But the great thing about e-reading is that it’s a very flexible activity: it can be done on a wide variety of devices, not just Nooks and Kindles. Survey results indicate that kids are reading equally across all kinds of devices, including iPads and tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops [Kids & Family Reading Report]. BVSD students will have increasingly more ways to access digital content like eBooks as we continue to add Chromebooks into the district and as more schools support BYOD initiatives.
Please chime in with your thoughts about eBooks in BVSD.