Ebooks: yes or no?

image by Perfecto_Capucine, downloaded from pixabayIs an ebook only an electronic version of a traditional print book that can be read by using a personal computer or by using an eBook reader? No, but they can be…  Is it  any digital publication that can be read on a computer, e-reader, or other electronic device? No, but some are…

O’Connell, Bales & Mitchell (2015) get it right, I think, when they say ebooks can:

  • be read or listened to;
  • can include images and multimedia elements,
  • can have tools for bookmarking and notetaking and links to related and extending resources;
  • they can be multimedia and interactive – allowing active participation (p. 196).


“Are we there yet?” Asks Rothman (2017). Not yet, answers Gray (2017).

It is a difficult decision for a school library to decide whether ebooks are really worthwhile in a school library collection. Gray says they are wonderful, he reads them all the time, but… “they have not reached the tipping point for being the best option in our school library”, but he does admit “ebooks are a question, not of if, but of when”.

Rothman remarks that the use of ebooks in school libraries are relatively new and evolutionary in nature. At the end of her research project with middle school students and Kindle ereaders, she recommends restraint until a school librarian has determined how – or whether – students will use ebooks. But how, Ms Rothman, will you determine this if you do not expose your students to ebooks? Can we really afford to sit and wait until it is all sorted out?

There are so many advantages to ebooks:

  • Never lost, damaged, late
  • Do not take up shelf space
  • Hyperlinks to dictionaries, extended content and translations
  • Ease of reading with changeable fonts and background colours, text to speech features
  • Available immediately, 24/7 and 365


  • Device needed
  • Expensive
  • Different lending models from different publishers, copyright restrictions

It is true that many students prefer the tactile experience of a book, but they need to also experience – and obtain the fluency – of reading an ebook. Our students should be exposed to new ways of perceiving text, or re-imagining text (Parks, 2010, p. 15). Surely this can only happen in the digital connected world, not through paper-based books?

So here is what we are doing at ICSZ…

We have some Kindles with preloaded content (Ms Rothman does not approve), because they are relatively cheap through Amazon and each book can be installed on 6 different devices. This is a really good option of have many copies of very popular books, book club and book competition titles available without it costing too much or taking up shelf space.

We have just joined an Overdrive consortium of local international schools. By pooling our content we should be able to have a large enough group of funds, books and students for a viable option.

Ebooks: yes or no?

Yes, because we have to expose our students to the format to enable them to become first consumers and then producers of the next level, which will hopefully fulfil all the promise Of O’Connell et al.’s definition.

The trick now is: how do we successfully promote our ebooks?



Gray, M. (2017). Ebooks: To subscribe, or not to subscribe? Connections, (101). Retrieved from https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-101/ebooks-to-subscribe-or-not-to-subscribe

O’Connell, J., Bales, J., & Mitchell, P. (2015). REvolution in reading cultures: 2020 vision for school libraries. The Australian Library Journal, 64(3), 194-208. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049670.2015.1048043

Parks, D. (2010). Transforming the library – e-books and e-buildings. In D. Parkes & G. Walton (Authors), Web 2.0 and libraries : impacts, technologies and trends (pp. 13-29). Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=alma991012588295402357&context=L&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en

Rothman, A. (2017, May/June). E-books in public school libraries: Are we there yet? Knowledge Quest, 45(5), 30-37. Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=proquest1894939174&context=PC&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en

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