Hearing about the 3M Cloud Library a few months ago was one of the first alternates to OverDrive I came across. This article points to new and positive developments that make it seem wise to stay out of the ebook fray for a while yet. The article says that the 'cloud library" of ebooks is integrated into one company's library catalog system, so patrons can find and download ebooks in the same database as the library's physical materials. One-stop shopping! Something to keep an eye on.
An interesting commentary on the exclusively commercial nature of the book industry, selecting books to publish not on inherent quality or sellability of the individual book, but on past sales of the author.
Wow -- exactly where I am with the whole business. I would LOVE to offer ebooks to our school community, but am stuck by the turbulence in the industry. The way I'd do it is currently illegal (violation of copyright law) and publishers are the biggest roadblock. They are so afraid that library ebook loans will hurt sales, that they can't see the thousands of copies that would be sold to libraries. I did not know that the "right of first sale" (if you buy a book, you get to decided what happens to it, whether you re-sell it, turn it into art, or burn it, because that copy belongs to you).
So for now, this is my solution: "get [or stay] out at least until there is a better system." Aargh.
In a couple of weeks, the Paideia librarians will be attending a professional meeting to go over ebook provider options. If you've ever borrowed and downloaded an ebook from the public library, then you've probably experienced OverDrive. I love how it works and the selection, but 1) it's really expensive, and 2) not only do only LEASE the materials (instead of an outright purchase), you only lease it from OverDrive, so if a better option comes along and switch vendors, you lose all access to the ebook collection you've developed and paid for. Not going there, not yet, for sure. Axis 360 may be something to look into.
Our library 'downsized' the reference book section 6 or 7 years ago, which helped with physical reorganization and greater likelihood of students finding the materials. It doesn't address the demand for getting the information through the Internet rather than in print, though. We wrestle daily with when/how to enter fully into providing information for our students through ebooks.
Open Culture is a tremendous collection of links to all kinds of free education on the Web. They've just updated the philosophy collection. If you want to "hack" an education of any kind, get familiar with Open Culture.