ebooks

The New Normal? Challenges of Leveraging the eBook Opportunity in K-12 Libraries

I was honored today to participate in the Library Journal and School Library Journal’s Digital Shift virtual ebook summit opening keynote panel featuring Robin Nesbitt and John Palfrey .  A heartfelt thank you to Ian Singer, Brian Kenney, Barbara Genco, Dodie Ownes, and the fabulous tech team along with 1300+ participants who helped make our session happen.  I’ll be publishing a separate post this week with follow-up answers to questions directed to me in the Q&A chat that we didn’t have time to address in today’s session.

Next Steps in the eReader Journey: The Nook Simple Touch

In 2010-11, we used our Kindle eReaders for recreational reading; for the 2011-12, the library is looking to support classroom novel studies by purchasing sets of Nook Simple Touches to support literature circle studies in content area courses as well as whole class readings of specific texts.  Students will have a choice as to whether they prefer to read a print copy of a text or if they would prefer to read on the Nook Simple Touch.  As of this morning, we have submitted an order for 50 Nook Simple Touches, 50 covers, and 50 two-year warranties.

Why are we going with the Nook Simple Touch?  Here are some of the features we like about the Nook Simple Touch:

  • a battery life of up to two months
  • touchscreen technology
  • lightweight and ultra portable
  • no web browser, which means fewer distractions for students
  • students cannot purchase or download content

While the device has tremendous appeal, the new tools for content and device management is the real selling point for us as a K12 school.  Here is a summary of the new program Barnes and Noble Managed Program and that I’m posting here with permission from my local sales representative.

The program is called B&N Managed Program (featuring digital lockers) and it provides easy, turn-key solutions to address concerns and needs of a K12 environment.   The program offers everything from greater bulk discounts/pricing on some NOOK units and ease of account management. The Barnes and Noble Managed program offers these solutions:

  • No credit card will be required to purchase e-content
  • Schools can purchase eBooks using a P.O. after an account has been set-up.
  • When placing new orders for devices and content, schools will receive bundled packaging. B&N will register the device, install any accessories you as a school or library would like, download the product (e.g. list of eBooks), and ship them to the customer ready to use.
  • Schools with existing devices can place an eBook order through the store. They just need to send a list of titles to B&N and B&N will download the product to their digital locker. The customer will receive an email confirmation and then sync their device to view their new titles.
  • B&N does all of the work for the school! We will register the devices, set-up their accounts and download their specified content to their digital lockers. These downloads will be customized to the customer’s specifications – by classroom, grade level, etc. In short, however you need the content, we will deliver!

While this is not a perfect solution nor one that allows schools to deliver ebook content to student owned devices or across multiple platforms, this is a more viable solution for the needs of the K12 environment in terms of options that meet our purchasing needs and ability to manage the content effectively and efficiently while giving us a means to offer students a digital reading experience that we hope will engage readers of all ages and prior reading experiences. I’m excited that B&N will help me create collections of my devices and facilitate the delivery of our ebook content to the appropriate devices as needed to support student learning in content area study/reading as well as recreational/leisure reading.  In addition, devices are password protected so that students cannot make unauthorized purchases or downloads.

I will be documenting our journey of learning with the Nooks through the new Nooks at the Unquiet Library LibGuide page I’ve created, so please bookmark this new site or subscribe to the RSS feed for the guide as I populate data and materials to share with everyone.

Why We Won’t Purchase More Kindles at The Unquiet Library

We’re back in The Unquiet Library this week as preplanning has begun, and I’ve been energized, excited (and a little happily exhausted) by the collaborative planning sessions I’ve been engaging in with several of our teachers as we’re planning some new units of study and lines of inquiry with students that will tie into content area standards as well as library program goals, themes, and targeted skills/processes  for learning (coming on the blog this week!).  Because some of these conversations began back in June at the end of the year, I spent the summer exploring options for expanding our eReader and eBook program (which I’ll also be blogging later this week).  I’ll elaborate in more detail soon why we are going to go with the new Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch for our “go to” device to integrate into instructional units of study as well as a medium for digital recreational reading, but an email I received last Thursday from Amazon Kindle Education sealed my decision.

In the email, Amazon Kindle Education wrote:

We discovered the FAQ on your Facebook post [my note:  they actually discovered the post from our LibGuides page through our library’s Facebook page] and wanted you to either update the information to be in line with Amazon’s End User License Agreement with the attached setup information.  Or to remove the information on registering 6 devices per account to share digital content.

The email also pointed me to the Amazon End User License  (updated in February well after we began our Kindle program and which was never brought to my attention in subsequent phone/email conversations with Amazon Kindle Education in June 2011).  The email included a PDF attachment of a draft “Kindle Education: Setup Guide” (which reflects a real lack of an understanding of the needs of K12 schools and libraries) and then concluded with this paragraph:

Amazon recommends schools register each Kindle to a single account.  If you are looking for a library solution, we are working to include Kindle books in Overdrive.com’s offering to libraries before the end of the year.

I emailed Amazon Kindle Education to make sure that I understood:

1.  They now require a separate email for each device, and subsequently, for managing ebook content which is now 1:1 for K12.  I immediately thought of colleagues who have much larger collections of Kindle devices and Kindle books and felt astonished that Amazon could be so ignorant (or indifferent?) of how ridiculously impractical this mandate will make it for librarians to manage the those devices and content.

2.  The 1:1 rule will now be enforced for K12 and school libraries, yet the only backend management tool being offered to us is to purchase a subscription to Overdrive, which is financially impossible for most school libraries, and for my colleagues who work in elementary and some middle school settings, not a feasible solution in terms of ease of accessibility for younger readers or a selection of interactive ebooks that are more developmentally appropriate for younger learners.  I don’t have a problem with the 1:1 aspect, but I do have a problem with Amazon not providing alternatives to help libraries and schools work within the confines of the licensing agreement that is now apparently being enforced (I was told via phone that in our case, they were responding to a concern shared by a publisher who apparently saw our LibGuides Kindle pages).

In a phone conversation with my Amazon Kindle Education rep Monday, the new terms of agreement were confirmed.  While the rep stated that Amazon is working on some type of backend management tool/system, it will not be available for several months, and I got the impression it won’t be comparable to what Barnes and Noble is now offering to K12 schools/libraries.   I had already planned to go with the Nook Simple Touch for 2011-12 (again, I’ll blog why later this week), but nonetheless, it was disappointing to walk away from this series of conversations feeling as though Amazon does not seem to value the needs of the K12 market and is not being terribly responsive to our needs as institutional consumers.  While we will continue to utilize our existing fleet of ten Kindles, we certainly will not invest any additional monies in the devices or ebook content under the current limitations that really will not work for our environment.

I share this information not to “bash” a vendor, but to help colleagues have as much information as possible as they prepare to make decisions about devices and providers of ebook content in the upcoming school year.  I’ll have a post up later this week about the options we’re exploring and how we feel they will meet the needs of our students and teachers.

Simple but Helpful Paper Trail and Record Keeping Tips: Kindle eBooks

Here are a few pearls of wisdom that have come to me this week as I’ve been cleaning up my paper trail documentation and record keeping of our Kindle eBook strategies.   I elaborate on these tips in the video, but in a nutshell:

1.  Print a copy of each ebook receipt as you purchase each ebook.

2.  If you are using gift cards (an imperfect solution for us for now since we don’t have a school credit card and can’t use our corporate account for buying the ebooks) for purchasing your ebooks, like an AMEX gift card, print a copy of your balance to document your purchases and remaining balance.

3.  On your Gift Card spreadsheets, include not only the card number, but also add the expiration date and code number on the back so you can quickly pull up the information for checking gift card balances.  You never know when you might need this information down the road!  I also am keeping all expired card and marking the gift card number (1, 2, 3, etc.) on the front with a Sharpie marker.

You can see the video on YouTube or view below:

All of our Kindle program documentation can be found on this Kindles at The Unquiet Library LibGuide resource page I’ve created for you; please feel free to borrow and adapt materials and to share the resource guide.