Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Growing Pains with EBooks ?

Today is the day of School Library Journal's webinar: Ebooks the New Normal.  We trust you can join us and attend one of the "tracks" (K-12, Public, Academic).   If you can't, please inquire about the archived version to view at your convenience.  It is likely that many topics will be discussed in detail, or from a different operating viewpoint then you currently have. 

As I walked through the presentation with my co-presenters, I was excited to hear suggestions and I gleaned many new ideas and applications that I had not considered.  Here we are operating in different parts of American, with common curriculum, common tools, and yet we all are applying devices and content in different ways.   This is the benefit of tapping into a national webinar.  It is an opportunity to share successes, discuss details, and envision how this would work in your own environment. When you tune in, you leave with take-aways to improve your program.  For instance, I learned from a virtual colleague how they were creating content which could (in theory) be added to our collection.   

In our library system here in upstate New York, we have a large virtual library available to our member school districts that is powered by Overdrive, packed with both popular and non-fiction information titles, available 24-7, and compatible with most all mobile devices. During our preparation for this webinar, I realized that I could help others avoid some of the growing pains which we encountered when we first entered this virtual playing field.  I realized in the discussion that there is a plethora of knowledge that we have learned the hard way--our growing pains.  If you are looking to get a grip on eBooks, now is the chance. Here are a handful of basic eBook vocabulary terms you may want to become familiar with, if you haven't yet:
  • DRM = Digital Rights Management  This is the procedure that a virtual library needs to accommodate so that publishers will sell you eBooks.   You can purchase your own privately for Nooks, Kindles, Sony Readers and other devices, but if you anticipate loaning these better be able to accommodate the DRM.   Chances are you can't.  That's where you need a digital provider such as Overdrive Download Library.  The entire cloud-based platform is to give you (the library) a place to host your books, stream your content, manage authority files, and manage digital rights. 
  • Format   -- File formats are important to consider when purchasing eBooks.  You have to know what formats your devices will read.  These file formats are about the only consistent thing in the eBook platform.  They are also evolving, but have basically evolved into a standard few that are sold and downloadable.  Popular file formats include:  ePub,  .MP3 (audio files), Kindle format (formerly known as MobiPocket - now having subtle differences), .PDF, .WM.  
  • eBook -- an electronic form of a book that is an alternative to print. 
  • ePub - standard format emerging for digital print
  • Adobe Digital ID's are necessary to download an ePub.  Open and account today.  AND-- if you are working with a class initiative, or 1-to-1 ipod initiative, you will want to track the number of devices attached to a particular ID.  There is a limit of 10 devices attached to 1 ID.  So, I could personally use my Adobe ID for my iPod, my iPad, my desktop, my eReader and my smart phone.  That's five.  However, if I loaded that Adobe ID onto  a bundle of iPads for my library... the app will not work.   It's all about tracking usage, digital rights, royalty payments and more.  
  • Project Gutenberg and public domain - freely available eBooks in the public domain market that you can take advantage of today. Wonderful initiative that began years ago by the late, Michael Hart (who was worried about the common man who might not have money to purchase anything--and more).  
  • Transfer - The act of moving the digital content from a desktop to a reader or .MP3 player (i.e. device).  Transfer rights are tracked also via a digital download library such as Overdrive.  
  • App -- a software program downloaded to a device (usually via the iTunes store or Android Marketplace) which will enable the user to access, play, or perform some function.  Apps for eBooks are usually free, but point to content that may cost or be managed. 
  • More to come as we  discuss today and I add to this list!  

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