Why eBooks? Top 5 Reasons

My library recently made the leap to including eBooks in our collection. The biggest question I’ve received isn’t about the platform or the prices, but WHY. After answering this question to many fellow librarians, I decided I better just write a blog about it.

So – why eBooks?

Well…why not?

This is my first year in my new school and I inherited an immaculate collection. Both fiction and non-fiction are very up to date, with all of the hottest books and a well rounded mixture of the timeless classics. The collection was recently weeded too (yippee) so we don’t have a lot of older materials cluttering the shelves.

Our school embraces BYOD (bring your own devices) and our 7th and 8th grade students are given an iPad mini (with plans to push to 6th grade in the 15-16 school year). When talking with my students about their favorite apps, students repeatedly listed the following apps (among others):

What do these apps have in common? They’re all eReading apps! Some of the students I spoke with are actually my best customers in the library, so I asked them “Well why don’t you just check out a book from the library?” Their responses have led me to the following reasons WHY I have embraced eBooks and why you should too.

1. Anywhere – anytime!

I’m sure this doesn’t hold true in every school, but our students are no longer permitted to carry backpacks for safety concerns. Therefore, the students store everything in their lockers aside for items necessary for class. Many students expressed that their iPad allowed them to carry around thousands of books, while only carrying their iPad. While our school library permits 4 books at a time, some students whip through them in a night. We are just finishing our Thanksgiving break and I logged in to see the circulation statistics of our eBooks and WOW! I was so amazed at how many students were checking out books from our MackinVIA page over the holiday vacation. Unless their parents would have taken them to the library, they wouldn’t have been able to exchange their books.

2. Privacy

Not everyone is ready for “The Fault in Our Stars” or “The Book Thief”. Some students are ready, but choose to read titles that aren’t as challenging or as serious as some of the NY Times Bestsellers. While that’s always been okay, the fact is this is middle school. Kids can be cruel sometimes and judge people for the simplest of things – including the book you’re reading. eBooks allow a student to read whatever they want without anyone knowing. 

3. Text Size  

My school has amazing kids. Three of those kids happen to be almost completely blind. If one of these students wanted a book from the library, he/she would tell the teacher and his/her parent and the book would be ordered in large print. By the time the book would have arrived, the kid has moved on to something else (again – they’re kids). I’m in my twenties and can see perfectly fine but I’ll admit to loving the ability to increase the text size on my eBooks. 

4. Cost

Books are expensive. Particularly ones with library binding. We’ve tried our luck with paperbacks but even with covers, they just don’t hold up. Our ‘well-loved’ hardbacks look pretty nasty after a year. And then there’s the issue of student’s moving away without returning items. This happens pretty frequently and while I know it’s not always the student’s fault, it is so frustrating.

Did you know that some eBooks have UNLIMITED, SIMULTANEOUS USE?

Amazon: $9.16 for 1 book for 1 user
MackinVIA eBook: $36.99 for 1 interactive eBook for UNLIMITED users (for life)

$36.99 gets you the same title with many more features (see a demo here) and all of your students could access it at the same time. Think of how that would benefit teachers doing class book studies? *Note: not all books are available as unlimited, simultaneous use (up to publisher)

5. It’s where the kids are

A part of me agrees that kids spend far too much time using technology. I’m guilty of it myself. But I’m not spending hours playing Flappy Bird or Farmville – I’m using it to be productive and usually I’m using it to learn. As teachers and librarians, our job is to show students how to find and use information. Ignoring the fact that students can read using technology is like ignoring the existence of Google. We have to show them how to use it. I did a quick poll and 50% of my students say they still prefer a print book over an eBook. Some of my fellow teachers made comments like “Yep – I thought so – we just aren’t ready for eBooks” HELLO!? There is still 50% of our students that PREFER an eBook! We can’t forget about them.

Right or wrong, I have decided to only purchase eBook titles that we can also purchase in print. I don’t want to force a student to use an eBook if they don’t want to, so I don’t want to purchase titles that are exclusively available as an eBook.

So there you have it. My Top 5 Reasons. Of course there are more, but I these reasons may apply to many of you. If you’re interested in starting an eBook collection, I urge you to look into it. There are many options out there and one of them is bound to fit the needs of you and your students.

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