Monday, December 12, 2011

Delivery of eBooks: The Distribution Platform

When exploring eBook options, teacher-librarians are interested in the platform for distribution, its cost, and added and hidden costs of selecting, providing, and building the e-collection.

OverDrive is an American company that is, by its own description, "a leading full-service digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, and other digital content. [They] deliver secure management, DRM protection, and download fulfillment services for publishers, libraries, schools, and retailers--serving millions of end users globally."

VPL uses OverDrive.  At this time, I am unaware of any school district in BC offering eBooks using OverDrive but would like to hear about their experiences, if there are any such districts. Equitable delivery of eBooks for Vancouver's and other districts' school libraries would mean looking at district and/or provincial licensing for student access.  Students who are equipped with their own devices would most assuredly need good materials to read if the devices are to tap into meaningful learning opportunities.  Do they buy these themselves and download them from Amazon?  Or are they expected to mine the internet for free things to read and learn?  Does the new Plan for BC education take into account the costs of the needed resources and include the need for investment and for centralization to achieve cost-efficiencies in the purchase of these resources?

A recent blog post by The Librarian in Black identified one interesting aspect of the OverDrive platform, that being equitable access:  OverDrive Has Different eBook Catalogs for Different Libraries.

At an eBook conference offered by YourSchoolLibrary, Australian teacher-librarians worried about OverDrive's capacity to offer Australian content suited for children and young adults.  We too would be concerned about its content delivery of Canadian reading materials suited to our students.  We would be concerned about the price and the price paid for failing to deliver good literature and resources.   And across the province, we surely would be concerned that schools had the same range of choice for reading.

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