It seems like I’ve been on an e-book tear lately but with the market changing so rapidly, I find it helpful to share.
Today I met with a representative from Baker and Taylor who shared their new e-book product. Their marketing I find a bit confusing because of so many different product names, but their digital media library is called Axis360. When you begin using Axis360, your site is fairly standard across their platform, but they can customize your logo and a couple of other items. Once you select the e-books, they appear within a couple of hours on an Axis360 site called the Magic Wall, which shows all of your e-book offerings in an attractive display, much like Amazon or other online stores.
Patrons can make a wish list or check out a book, and for some titles they have short synopses. Students can also contribute book reviews. If students are reading the book on an iPad, they need the app Blio to actually read the book.
The process works like this–students go to the Axis 360 site(your Magic Wall) with your books. They login and select the book they want. Then they can either download it to read on the computer or use the Blio app to download it to the iPad or Android device. If they are reading on multiple devices, the book is stored “in the cloud” and it keeps their place as well as their notes. (Notes can be copied and pasted out of the app before the book is returned, evidently.) When students open their Blio app, the book is already waiting there to be downloaded, without physically hooking any device up to a computer.
One limitation that we discovered today was that although the Axis360/Magic Wall site works fine on the iPad for browsing titles, as soon as you try to check out a book it freezes up. It appears to use a flash pop-up for the sign in, and so there’s not a way to initially “check-out” the book on the iPad that I could find, unless the site was just being problematic when I was using it. You would have to use a computer to check it out from the Magic Wall, and then it would load into the Blio app for reading later. Our rep seemed to think that the books have to be checked out on the website, but then they can be downloaded anywhere.
Baker and Taylor doesn’t have this ready for prime time on the Kindle or Nook although that is evidently coming in the next month or two.
Their pricing model is pretty optimal for schools– to start it is $125 annual fee, which doubles to $250 the second year. You have to start with a minimum order of $1000, but that’s it. The content is yours, so if you quit BT, you can have them help you move the books to another site.
I did find their ordering site (Title Source 3) a little too detailed for my purposes, although the speed of it is much faster than Overdrive’s site which is very slow.
One other plus with Follett and Baker and Taylor is that you can have a district e-library, and Follett even allows you to have separate k-6, 6-8 collections in a district. While all of the books from BT are one-to-one use, (Follett has a few multi-use titles), this could still provide some significant cost savings, as there are titles you may want to have in district, but don’t need copies of at every library all the time.
I plan to write an updated post about Follett’s Shelf offerings soon, as they also look like an affordable and viable model for k-12. So the e-book developments continue…