Today, the White House announced that the Open eBooks app to put ebooks in the hands of lower income children and young adults aged 4-18, is up and running. The Open eBooks service to provide age appropriate reading materials, was developed in partnership with the Digital Public Library of America, the New York Public Library, FirstBook, and Baker & Taylor. With the app, the Open eBooks service can begin.
The Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provided grant funds to get the project up and running. The Open eBooks service will require the help of librarians, teachers and other professionals who can register eligible children and young adults and provide them with an access code to enjoy thousands of books made available by publishers, including the Big Five. The service is modelled after the existing FirstBook services for print books. The ebooks can be accessed and read from any smart phone or tablet that runs on Android or iOS mobile operating systems. The Open eBooks web site notes:
Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for children from low-income households. These eBooks can be read without checkouts or holds. Children from low-income families can access these eBooks, which include some of the most popular works of the present and past, using the Open eBooks app and read as many as they like without incurring any costs. The goal of Open eBooks is to encourage a love of reading and serve as a gateway to children reading even more often, whether in school, at libraries, or through other ebook reading apps.
I think it goes without saying that implementing the Open eBooks service initially will be a bumpy ride—isn’t everything?—but worthwhile to so many young people. Time and experience with the new app will allow for working out any kinks. Everyone should have books to read! And that’s what the new Open eBooks app is all about.