Saturday, April 21, 2012

The highs and lows of ebooks

or should I say the agony and the ecstasy? I love ebooks. I have a kindle and I love it. I have more than 80 books on my kindle. I have 9 samples - these are first chapters of books I can download for free to see if I want to purchase them. During conversations with my friends about books I have my kindle app on my smart phone open and I simply find the book we are talking about and down load a sample. I take notes in my ebooks on my kindle, I book mark and highlight. I love it. Some of our students and staff have kindles or nooks or other ereaders. They share my delight in being an International traveler and packing 80+ books in my hand luggage to read and enjoy. So what are the draw backs? I love sharing the books I read. I am a lender of books, my own books, as well as being a librarian. I also love borrowing books from my friends and family and from my local library - Browns Bay Library in Auckland, New Zealand (picture above) I still have a current library card for this lovely place. They do not lend books on to the kindle format - yet.

We do not have kindles in our school library. From the beginning of libraries exploring how to lend ebooks I decided I did not want to commit to the hardware around ebooks. I want my patrons to enjoy ebooks on any device, anywhere, anytime. I did not want to purchase kindles, ipads or readers and lend them out. That seemed to me to be a huge waste of resources. So our library's first connection with ebooks was through Tumblebooks We subscribe to the Tumblebook library. We have passwords and our staff and students then have access to the Tumblebook collection. This is proving to be more and more popular, particularly with the primary school. It has great features for secondary but they have not been as quick to go with us to use it. I love the Shakespearean texts which are read aloud to students.

The PTA at our school raised a lot of money for the library again and this year we decided to trial FollettShelf This provides us with ebooks we select ourselves. Some of the books have unlimited download which means more than one student can borrow it at a time. This month Follett Destiny upgrade has provided a way for FollettShelf to be incorporated into the Destiny catalogue. This has taken a while to launch as the book downloads to one device. So the students have to decide what they will download the ebook to to read it. It does have apple apps for ipad and iphone and they are working on android as well. I was very disappointed to find that about 20% of the books I wanted to purchase - including 'The Hunger Games' were only available in North America. Also not every book is available on ebook format.

We also trialed ebrary from Jstore. I loved this. It was mostly for senior students grades 10 -12. It had a clunky search mechanism but that meant the students had to get skilled at using advance search. The books they found were so helpful. Itis expensive though and now I need to weigh up whether to subscribe to their collection.

So all in all I am a beginner with ebooks but I have taken the plunge. Some of my experiences with them have been great and some frustrating.....