Friday, March 23, 2018

Alumni & Parents -- Do You Read Ebooks??

Dear Paideia Alumni & Parents,

I'd love your input as I decide on how to go forward with Paideia's ebook offerings.  In the comments section below, or by directly emailing me at, would you help me out by answering these questions?

  1.  do you read digital ebooks (or listen to downloadable audiobooks?)?
  2.  if yes, do you usually borrow or buy?
  3. have you ever borrowed ebooks or audiobooks from Paideia's Axis360 collection?
  4.  do you ever borrow ebooks & audiobooks from your public or university library collection?
  5.  do you know what platform your public library uses? (often it's Overdrive/Libby, but there are others. Currently Paideia uses one called Axis 360.)

Here's why I'm asking

Whether and how the Paideia Library offers digital reading are questions we've wrestled with for years, first with the idea of e-reader devices to check out (in February 2011 -- we never really went there), then with the idea of building a downloadable digital collection, (October 2011 and May 2012) and what the collecting policy should be. Five years ago, we made the leap and launched Paideia's digital collection via Axis360, a platform now part of the Follett Library company.

Right now, Paideia's Axis360 digital collection has just over 500 titles, mostly fiction, almost entirely text ebooks and at the grade 7-12 level.  The guiding policy is to purchase ebooks meant for pleasure reading (as opposed to ones that would be used for research projects, such as Salem Witch Trials, or racial profiling).  There are other variables, imposed by publishing companies, that also influence what goes into our Axis360 collection.  Ebooks (even your Kindle and Audible purchases) aren't actually sold, they're licensed, meaning you are buying permission to use it, without all the rights of ownership (like reselling, or giving it away).   Some publishers only allow 26 checkouts per license, after which a library has to pay for the book all over again. Even worse, other publishers only license a book for 12 or 24 months, whether or not the book is ever checked out in that time!  And then some books are just not even available for the school library collection, period.

Zoom!  Five years later, it's time to re-assess.  Axis360 use is growing, but there are so many new books out that we don't have in that collection.  We haven't added much elementary-level material to the collection at all. Even though there is plenty of information showing that the first wave of enthusiasm for digital reading has lessened, and that readership of print books is rising, we can't just drop the ebooks altogether.  It's 2018, and digital is here to stay.

The thing I love most about offering digital book and audiobook lending from the Paideia Library is that it's 24/7/365!  We do our best to keep families supplied with a generous summer checkout program, but there are still going to be times when there's nothing to read and school is is closed.  Sigh.

Ownership is out, subscriptions are in (think Amazon KindleUnlimited, Spotify, Netflix).  OverDrive, still the largest, most well-known ebook borrowing platform, offers a subscription collection with over 10,000 titles available to our regional independent school membership group.   It's 4 times the annual cost, but 20 times the content, including elementary-appropriate books and audiobooks, and a bunch more stuff (that we may or may not want. We'll see.).

Would more people use Paideia's ebook collection through OverDrive?

If we had more titles available AND used the same app as the local public library systems, would it be more convenient and attractive for Paideia readers?  (ps -- take advantage of your tax dollars; use your public library often!!).  Would a more seamless process for students, staff and families who borrow from their libraries make it easier for the same folks to use Paideia's ebooks?

I think we're going to do it, at least as a test, but before I sign on the line, I'd really like to hear from adult members of the Paideia community about your ebook and audiobook use.  Parents in particular, because you can borrow from our libraries just like your kids can (take advantage of your tuition dollars; borrow from the Paideia Library!!).

Email me at, or leave a comment below to help me offer the best digital reading options for our community.  Thanks!!


Brian said...

Yes. I read books on my Kindle. I always buy them so far, never tried borrowing yet (but interested in doing so). So ,were there an option to borrow them from Paideia, I'm sure I would do that at least some of the time.

PiLibrarian said...

Thanks, Brian, that's great info. I was re-reading the OverDrive info this morning -- I had forgotten another advantage of OverDrive is that the Kindle version is easier to access (I think) than in Axis. At least, it is when borrowing from DeKalb and Atlanta Fulton County, and I'm sure the school access is the same.

Put your tax and tuition dollars to work!! Use your library!!

Bob said...

I have downloaded three or four ebooks (which I've never read). I'll mostly download an ebook if I want to see if I like it without having to pay full price for the real book. I don't have any idea where my Kindle is right now.

That said, I'm 52, so ebooks do not feel real to me. I didn't grow up staring at a screen -- except for the TV. And we only had three networks. Personally, I prefer printed books.

PiLibrarian said...

Hi Bob -- I know what you mean. I grew up with TV, in a small town where "good reception" meant there was only one of every character on the screen (without "ghosts"). I don't prefer ebooks, but if that's the only way I can get to the story or the information I want, I'll take it. On a rainy weekend, it's sure nice to have access to a supply of absorbing novels to go with the hot chocolate!

Unknown said...

Hi Natalie,

Yes, our whole family reads ebooks all the time and mostly we borrow them using the Overdrive app through the Decatur Library. We also listen to audiobooks and will borrow from Overdrive for those as well. We have never borrowed from Paideia, but mostly because we didn't realize that was an option. Overdrive is easy to use and the biggest downside is waiting for popular books to become available. Thanks!

PiLibrarian said...

Thank you for taking the time to comment. This input is SO helpful, especially since I've been agonizing over this particular decision for quite some time. "Crowdsourcing" can indeed be a beautiful thing (for the right question!).