Kindle Program Update and FAQs, March 2011

We are nearly four months into our Kindle circulation program here at The Unquiet Library, and I’m delighted to report that so far, the program is a success.  At this time, we are circulating 10 Kindle devices and have purchased and/or been gifted 120 eBook titles.  I’d like to briefly share what is working well, challenges we’ve encountered, and some commonly asked FAQs I receive from librarians and teachers.

What Is Working Well/What Students Like/Celebrations

  • With the exception of one student (who identified herself as a non-reader and who tried the Kindle at her mother’s urging), every participant in the Kindle program has expressed extreme satisfaction with the Kindle reading experience.
  • Students are thrilled that we purchase the books they want; the personalized reading experience is very important to our readers.
  • Students like they can make adjustments to the page views/font size while reading.
  • Students like the convenience and ease of reading on the Kindle.
  • Students have been consistent and diligent in returning the Kindles on time within the one week circulation period.
  • Most students have requested to use the Kindle again.

Hiccups/Challenges/Suggestions from Students

  • We have discovered we need to keep the wireless turned off on the Kindles even when they are not in use because the battery drains rapidly trying to either find the 3G signal or to connect to the wireless network.
  • Students all indicated they wished the Kindle was backlit and/or for us to purchase reading lights for nighttime reading.
  • A few students have had difficulty remembering to return all Kindle accessories (power supply, cables); most return the missing item(s) within a day.   Now that we have identified the source of the battery drain issue, we are now circulating the Kindles without the power supply unless the student specifically requests.
  • Students would like a loan period longer than one week; as we acquire more eReader devices, we plan to extend the loan period to two weeks in 2011-12.

FAQs from Librarians and Teachers

1. For each Kindle eBook you purchase from Amazon, how many devices may you load the eBook?
Six (6)

2. If you want to buy more than one copy of a Kindle eBook, how do you go about doing so?
At this time, we purchase books based on student requests and for each book we buy, we load them on one of the two sets of Kindles (1-6 or 7-10); we approach loading the ebooks in this manner for ease of record-keeping and distributing the books electronically to the Kindles.  We have not had a situation in which we needed more than one copy of a book; however, you would need an additional account(s) attached to unique emails to do so.

3.  What titles are students requesting?

While most requests have been contemporary YA and adult fiction, we have had requests for nonfiction as well as classic literature or nonfiction students are reading for academic courses.   Students can request up to 10 titles at a time; we provide them a book/author request form when they get our acceptable use form (available for you to use and adapt as needed on our Kindle Guide).

4.  Why did you choose to start with Kindle?

Simply, this was the format I had used the most and felt most comfortable with as an affordable entry point into the eBook/eReader market.  We do plan to add Nooks; we are also exploring options for eBook delivery to non-Kindle devices from other vendors although at this time, I’ve not found a service that meets the reading needs of our users and/or received sufficient information.

5.  How are you cataloging your Kindle eBooks?

The process of dealing with the eBooks had been a process of trial and error.  In a nutshell, we are not cataloging the Kindle eBooks at this time through the Destiny OPAC for two reasons.  One wrinkle is that we do not have rights to edit MARC records, which means we can’t update which books are loaded on individual Kindle eReaders.  Secondly, we found that when we did catalog the Kindle eBooks, it was somewhat confusing for patrons as well as us, the library staff, to distinguish which copy (print or Kindle edition) was available at first glance, particularly when trying to place a hold for a student because we do not actually check out the Kindle eBooks through Destiny.

6.  How do you purchase your Kindles and eBooks? What methods of payment do you use?

We set up a corporate account with Amazon to purchase the Kindle devices themselves with purchase orders; instructions and information on this process are available here.  It took about 1-2 weeks after we had submitted our application online for us to hear back from Amazon by phone to get the approval for our corporate account. You can register as many Kindle devices to your Amazon account as you like.

We do not have a school credit card or purchasing card; we use gift cards for purchasing the eBooks.  We have been using AMEX gift cards, but we just discovered our local CVS carries Amazon gift cards, so we plan to explore that method of payment.

7.  Can you purchase ebooks for the Kindle from someone other than Amazon at this time?

Legally, no.

8.   Is there a way to “lock” the Kindle account so that students cannot purchase books or download items?

At this time and to my knowledge, no; there is no password protect option at this time.  Only if you deregistered the device from your account would it become completely separated from your Kindle account information; by doing this, though, you’d have to reregister to deliver more content to the device.  We build into our AU policy that students will not download any books, period—we feel the personalized reading requests have helped us support this policy.

9.  What covers do you recommend?

We initially purchased this model from Amazon (which is currently out of stock); initially, we thought the cover was to blame for some freezing students were experiencing because other customers had reported freezing issues seemingly related to the covers; however, we have not had any freezing reported in the last month, so we now think perhaps those errors may have been user related or possibly related to the Kindle searching for wireless connectivity.

We are now looking at covers from a variety of vendors that include the reading lights.

10.  Any other advice you would offer?

I think this post from Bertha Gutsche at ALA Learning offers some excellent advice for anyone considering implementing eBooks or eReaders into your collection.   I also recommend trying out the devices you’re thinking of circulating—take some time to go to your local store and play with them and test the features firsthand—some hands-on experience will give you a much better context for conceptualizing how your learners/patrons might use the device and how/where the devices fit into your library collection/program as an access point for learning.

Other Suggested Readings/Resources:

15 thoughts on “Kindle Program Update and FAQs, March 2011

  1. Buffy,

    Thanks for this–consolidating the kinds of questions we get asked is so helpful!

    What we ended doing was up ordering some slip cases for our Kindles that hold both the Kindle and the cord in an outside zippered pocket. So far, I like this approach. The Kindle itself doesn’t have a cover when being used, but we bought the sheets to go over the screen. They seem quite durable, however, so I decided these little padded cases with room for the cords was preferable for us.

    Here’s a link to what we purchased. I noticed Case Logic has something similar. Ours are from Gizmo Dorks.

    http://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Kindle-Generation-Neoprene-Sleeve/dp/B002L35KWM/ref-sr_1_12?s-electronics&ie-UTF8&qid-1294325322&sr-1-12

    • Carolyn, you are welcome!

      We’re looking at that style of cover—I’m going to check out that link, and I appreciate your help with that! I think M-Case may have a similar style, too!

      Thank you again for those tips!
      Buffy

  2. We’re circulating six Kindles at my Junior High library, and I thought I’d chime in about the covers. We had TERRIBLE problems with the Kindles freezing. They’d work fine for me, but then I’d check them out, and the students would bring them back because they were frozen. I couldn’t find a rhyme or reason to the problem.

    We DID have all our Kindles in Amazon’s basic leather covers. A teacher mentioned that she was having similar problems with her Kindle freezing, and Amazon had replaced the cover for free. We called, and sure enough, they sent us six new “Kindle Lighted Leather Covers” at no charge. Now that our Kindles are sporting the new covers, we haven’t had a single problem.

    We find that the Kindle holds its charge for a week without any problems, so we don’t check out cords to students. If the battery gets low, they just bring it to the library and we charge it during the school day.

    As a totally separate issue, have you had any problems with cracked screens? We’ve had two — both while Kindles were out of their cases (testing to make sure the case was the issue, as per Amazon) — but students claim to have “no clue how it happened.” Luckily, the Kindles are still under warranty, and Amazon has replaced both for free, but it’s making me nervous for next fall when the warranty is gone.

  3. Thanks for the update Buffy. There is great interest in looking at the entire category of e-books next year in regards to pricing through the MDK12 Digital Library. I have been following your progress as we begin doing our homework. The public libraries in the state now use Overdrive but the limitations there are to ipads/iphones/itouches and the Sony Reader platform and now of course the growing concern over the limits on the # of downloads of popular titles ala HarperCollins.

    • Good morning Jay! Thanks so much for your words of support. We’ve been exploring Overdrive, too, but the limits on popular titles from Harper Collins is a concern for us, too, as is the cost of the hosting fee. I’d love to talk to you more about additional options you’re exploring.

      Buffy

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  5. Hi Buffy,
    We’re interested in purchasing some Kindles, too, and really appreciate all you have written on your blog about the experience. I was wondering about buying ebooks … I read that you use gift cards. Can ebooks be purchased with purchase orders? I don’t think our district wil allow gift cards. How are your gift cards funded? Any ideas or suggestions about how to work out this issue because what good would it be to be able to buy the Kindle and yet not be able to buy books?
    Thanks,
    Anne

    • Hi! Thanks for the kind words!

      1. eBooks cannot be purchased from Amazon with POs; you need a credit card or gift card.
      2. State monies for our library and local (fines, donations) fund our eBook purchases.
      3. Definitely do your research on purchasing options and how that may work or may not work with your district’s purchasing guidelines before investing in any ereader device or ebook platform. You are smart to be proactive!

      Best,
      Buffy

  6. Thanks for all the tips and examples Buffy! I am a media specialist in NE Ohio and we purchased 18 Kindles through a grant this year, which we just begain checking out. Your website has been invaluable for me as I am doing this all by myself with no real guidance from any other source!

    • I am a high school library media specialist in Kansas. How have you addressed the CIPA requirements when checking out the Kindles to students? Our district has a concern about the liability issues when students can access information outside of the school without a filter in place. Any information you could provide would be very helpful! Thanks!

      • Hi Robin!

        I wrote a post back in December about how I’m interpreting CIPA and eBook devices (which may or may not be correct), but how is the Kindle really any different from a netbook, iPod, or other device a district might assign to a student? The filtering system in place at school only protects on the school network, and just like a netbook or other school assigned device, any filters that might be in place on the school network are not going to be in place in the home.

        Best,
        Buffy

  7. Buffy,

    What have you done about the WiFi issue once students check out the Kindle? Is there a way to disable it so students can’t turn it on? My concern is the liability issue of students accessing content outside of school that isn’t filtered. There is a hightened awareness in our district about the liability we face concerning this issue. Any tips you can give on how you have dealt with this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Robin Schrack
    Gardner Edgerton High School
    Gardner, KS

    • Robin,

      We have checked out laptops to students for 8 years. We have a user agreement form that both the student and parent must sign. In it, they accept responsibility for their web browsing.

  8. Hi Buffy,

    I was able to get my admin to pilot a Nook this Spring and some of the issues you are having with the Kindle, I have not experienced with the Nook. There is password protection for purchasing, so we are not experiencing that problem. Students who have experience with the Kindle are describing problems with the pages “flipping”…I discovered it is the difference in how pages are turned between the Nook vs Kindle platform. Like you, we are buying books on demand (kids LOVE that!). Most books requested are the most recent release of a book in a series. I do catalog them and in my circulation system (Alexandria) put the call number as Nook 1…this lets my staff and students know where the copy is located. When I get more this Fall, I will catalog them Nook 2, etc.

    Good Luck!
    Billie Esser
    Jefferson West HS
    Meriden, KS 66512

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