If the classroom trend is to “go digital,” ebooks would seem an obvious avenue. According to a new article in Publishers Weekly, though, while ebook sales are on the rise, the decision to move in that direction has many complicating factors. Most important, as noted by several sources in the article, is that students and educators still need—or even prefer—print materials.
- Reports do show an increase in ebook sales and use. However, librarians are most likely responsible for much of the initial growth as they have more control over their purchases as compared to classroom teachers.
- Schools investing into ebooks not only need to consider the cost of the books and the hardware to display them but also network bandwidth, IT support capacity, BYOD policies, etc.
- Ebook customers need access to constant support from vendors. Unlike print products, ebooks require tech support, training, trouble shooting guides, etc.
- Discoverability is also key. Students and educators may not know what materials are available.
“I think this was the area we could have improved on,” Ann Fondren, recently retired division library coordinator for Spotsylvania County Schools in Virginia, said to Publishers Weekly. “We didn’t think about the fact that when our students walked into our libraries, they couldn’t see the e-books, so they didn’t think about them—they aren’t sitting on wooden shelves with the rest of the collection.”
Read more on ebooks and schools: “School and Library Spotlight: How Schools Buy and Use E-Books,” by Shannon Maughan, Publishers Weekly (August 28, 2015)
Also read “Digital Resources Beyond the E-book,” from Publishers Weekly for a look at digital learning tools. The article features AAP PreK-12 Learning Group’s Linda Swank discussing entry trends in the REVERE Awards.