Ebooks in schools – what needs to happen for stuff to start happening?

So, after a lot of thought, and investigation, and frustration, and reinvestigation, it looks like next year we will finally be going into ebooks in my school library.  I do feel like I’ve spent a year and a half thinking, and meandering, but on the whole I’m happy with that – we’re going to go with Overdrive , and that is a massive investment and a massive risk, so it’s right to spend a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons.  The advantages of Overdrive are that it has a massive range of modern fiction and non-fiction, including plenty for teen students, and it’s all about the ebooks rather than ereaders (and isn’t device specific) – so it involves no commitment in terms of hardware.  Instead, students temporarily download ebooks to their own readers, in a format that expires after 3 weeks, in a similar way to a library.  The disadvantages are that it does need a fair amount of user education and promotion, and it is very, very expensive – USD 4,000 a year.  I wouldn’t even be thinking about it unless I was at a school with a similar budget to ours, and where most students already had smartphones that they could download to.  The sting in the tail is that if, after a year, you decide not to renew, you lose everything, and have nothing to show for the USD, 4,000 you spent previously.

However, after a long search, there is no other company out there with an offer that’s relevant to a school library.  Follett, ebrary and Bloomsbury have ebook collections, but only for reading online in a web-browser.  Amazon has a massive collection of books you can download (and copy to another 5 devices), but that is only going to help 6 students unless you start lending out ereaders – and that easily turns into a big logistical hassle and financial risk.  After a lot of thought, I think Overdrive is the way we want to be headed.

However, I’m on the whole excited to be finally going for it, (and also Tumblebooks, for junior school), and will hopefully be posting again in a few months time to let you know how it goes.


About angellibrarian

Children's/teen librarian working in an international school in Thailand.
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