Self-destructing eBooks rile librarians

A publisher's new policy forces libraries to repurchase eBooks after 26 check-outs.

A move by publisher HarperCollins, which would cap eBook loans from public libraries at 26 check-outs before requiring the library to repurchase the eBook, has school and public librarians worried about how such a policy will affect strained library budgets.

The new policy comes after HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., said it has “serious concerns that our previous eBook policy, selling eBooks to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging eBook ecosystem, hurt the growing eBook channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors.”

Libraries can lend out an eBook from the publisher 26 times—“a year of availability for titles with the highest demand, and much longer for other titles and core backlist,” according to a statement from HarperCollins—before the eBook will expire and vanish.

Libraries then would have to repurchase the book, although HarperCollins said the price would be “significantly” lower.

But many librarians are upset and say the change will put a huge strain on already cash-strapped school and public libraries.

New Jersey librarian Andy Woodworth started a petition on challenging HarperCollins to drop its controversial new policy. As of press time, 67,978 people had signed the petition.

In an eMail interview with eSchool News, Woodworth said he understands HarperCollins’ position in its official statement, because the company is “working to ensure its own future to publish books (both eBooks and paper), to develop and market literary talent, and to protect authors from piracy and copyright infringement.”

The issue lies with the method the publisher is using to protect its interests, he said.

“I believe limited eBook checkouts hurt the overall market by placing limitations on libraries and readership, as well as interfere with the cultural preservation mission of libraries,” Woodworth said. “Artificial scarcity is moving in the opposite direction of the digital age and something that will be universally rejected by the online world.”


Fellows get $100G to stay out of school

A billionaire venture capitalist, on a crusade about the value of the expensive college educations that draw thousands of students to the Hub each year, is raising concerns with a new fellowship program that requires students to ditch school for two years, reports the Boston Herald. PayPal co-founder, Facebook investor and hedge fund manager Peter Thiel has offered $100,000 cash to 24 of the best and brightest entrepreneurial young people in the United States with a big stipulation–they must stay out of college for two years to further their scientific and technical ideas…

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America’s most popular online teacher

America’s most popular teacher doesn’t work at Harvard University or a fancy prep school. In fact, he doesn’t work in a school at all, but his lessons have been viewed more than 56 million times, according to U.S. News & World Report. Salman Khan, a former hedge fund manager, is the founder of Khan Academy, a free online learning platform with a library of more than 2,300 videos covering everything from basic algebra and differential equations to the Vietnam War…

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Editorial: Western Governors University makes good call with Floten

Washington’s first fully online university makes a strong play for academic heft and innovation by tapping Bellevue College President Jean Floten as its chancellor, reports the Seattle Times. Floten brings gravitas and assertive leadership, a perfect fit for the big plans of Western Governors University-Washington. The nonprofit, online university created in 1997 by governors of 19 Western states, including this one, has a small footprint here…

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Ultrabook: Intel launches new class of thin, powerful laptops

Intel has revealed at Computex trade show it will direct its mobile computing efforts towards an entirely new category of laptops called Ultrabooks, reports Mashable. Intel’s vision of the Ultrabook consists of a thin, elegant machine, powered by the new 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, which costs under $1,000. The Ultrabook should bring all the benefits of tablets but with the performance and capabilities of today’s laptops – a marriage between the MacBook Air and the iPad, if you will…

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Instead of student loans, investing in futures

As the global economy has become more knowledge-based, the importance of a university education has risen dramatically. However, only 7 percent of the world’s population currently has a college degree, reports the New York Times. There are many reasons why people fail to reach college, including, of course, lack of access to quality primary and secondary schooling. But for millions of students who could succeed in college, the limiting factor is money. At Fixes, we like to explore ideas that re-imagine how systems can work. Today, I’d like to look at the question of whether there may be a better way to pay for college than with scholarships, grants and loans. Is it possible to finance higher education the way we finance start-up companies?

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Five ways to connect with online students

A few tips can help educators make solid connections with online students.

The online classroom poses unique challenges for classroom management and connection with students. Online students might report feelings of loneliness, a lack of connection, and a need for productive social interaction. But an emerging field is beginning to address online students’ need for social connectedness.

The emerging field of study on e-mmediacy addresses online students’ need for social connectedness in the online classroom. Here are five helpful tips to promote successful learning and e-mmediacy in your online classroom:

1.  Forge a personal connection by providing a picture or video introduction.

Students are more likely to feel a personal connection to you if you can humanize your virtual persona. For example, Rasmussen College Online has great online faculty bios, which include a headshot and a detailed professional background.

Remember, nonverbal skills that typically give a student cues are missing in the online environment. Use as much sensory stimulation as you can to simulate this type of connection, ensuring a more personalized experience for your students.

2. Enhance your lessons by integrating video clips and other types of media.

Imagine the resources you use residentially, and be creative in the way you translate those ideas into the online classroom environment.  Incorporate animation, short clips, presentations, and pictures in your virtual classroom. With the technology that is available today, there is no excuse for a boring online class! Not a whiz with technology? Join a professional association that will allow you to trade best practices with other professionals in training or higher education.

3. Set realistic expectations for response time.

Online students often report feeling lost or abandoned. You should be clear and upfront in your syllabus with regard to response time.  Students are far less likely to panic if they know that it might take you up to 48 hours to respond to an inquiry. Most importantly, keep your promises. If you guarantee a 24-hour turnaround on graded assignments, honor that policy consistently.


eBook report: Nook is up, iPad still catching up is still the leader in eBook sales, and its closest competitor isn't Apple—it's Barnes & Noble.

As the publishing industry on May 26 wrapped up four days of digital talk at its annual national convention,’s Kindle was seen as the clear, if not dominant, player in the growing eReader market; Barnes & Noble’s Nook was considered a pleasant surprise and Apple’s iPad an underachiever.

“They had a respectable launch, but we think Apple can do better,” Penguin Group (USA) CEO David Shanks said this week during BookExpo America at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. “They still haven’t moved their eBooks into their iTunes store, and they can have a much better search capability in their iBookstore.”

Read more about eReaders in education…

Self-destructing eBooks rile librarians

Feds to schools: Make sure ed-tech programs are accessible

Which eReader is right for you?

“The iPad offers so many audio visual applications that reading is not given as much priority as it is in dedicated [reading-only] devices like the Nook and Kindle,” says literary agent Richard Curtis.

More than 20 million iPads and iPad 2s have been sold over the past year, and Apple’s iBookstore is also available on more than 160 million additional devices through the iPhone and iPod. But publishers and agents say Apple is not yet the balance to for which they had hoped.

They estimate that Apple sales are around 10 percent of the eBook market, far behind the believed 60 percent to 65 percent for Amazon.

Publishers and agents say eBooks are at least 15 percent to 20 percent of overall sales, more than double from just a year ago.

Apple spokesman Jason Roth declined to comment on any specific criticisms, but he did say that the iBookstore had more than 150,000 titles—an Amazon spokesman says the Kindle store has more than 950,000—and that more than 100 million books had been downloaded worldwide through the iBookstore.


Judge throws out Wisconsin union-busting bill

A judge in Wisconsin on Thursday threw out legislation backed by Republican lawmakers and the state’s governor that would have stripped public workers of union bargaining rights, the AFP reports. Circuit court judge Maryann Sumi said the legislation, which Governor Scott Walker signed into law in March after weeks of massive protests in the state capital, violated a state law requiring lawmakers to give at least two hours’ notice before voting on legislation and breached the trust of the public…

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ROTC marches through the Ivy League

Spurred on by Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’s scheduled repeal, Columbia and Yale Universities are signing an agreement on Thursday allowing the Reserve Officer Training Corps back on campus for the first time in decades, reports the Atlantic. Both schools will now have Naval ROTC programs that can use school facilities, making it more convenient for enrolled students to participate in the program and presumably easier for the military to recruit…

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