'Way of the future' here now

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 13:00 19/02/2014
St Paul’s Catholic School pupils
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
ENJOYABLE: St Paul’s Catholic School pupils Jordan Bowater, 8, and Amy Oliver, 7, with ebooks on their school iPads.

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Buying ebooks for a school library is the way of the future and "a no-brainer", a local principal says.

St Paul's Catholic School in Richmond is dedicating about half of its library budget to ebooks this year.

Principal John Dorman said the electronic books were generally cheaper and the children engaged with them more.

He said about half of the $4000 library budget would be used to purchase ebooks this year, which students could read on the school's iPads or their own devices.

The school has about four iPads in each classroom, and children are encouraged to bring their own devices as well.

There were free books available to download off the internet and the school would buy books from book company Wheelers as well.

While this was the first year the library would hire out ebooks, the school had been using some digital story books already, such as the PM Story Books series for young readers.

Mr Dorman said ebooks were an exciting development, and he believed they would soon change the role and look of the school library.

"It engages them in reading without any trouble at all, it's got pictures and props to help them if they are struggling with their reading.

"It's more engaging and easily accessed, and you don't have to worry about getting the ebooks back, they just disappear off the devices. It seems to me to be a no-brainer with the benefits to it."

While the school had originally planned to dedicate the whole library budget to ebooks this year, it did not want to alienate children who did not have access to device at home.

"While they have access to the devices in the classroom, for some kids it will be more difficult for them to access the new books at home, so we think a mixture of both until we are all deviced up is they way to go."

While the school had not yet decided on which books to order, Mr Dorman said the students' interests would be taken into account as would the school's ethos.

He expected the Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Captain Underpants series to be in high demand on the ebooks.

Student Amy Oliver, 7, likes to read stories on a school iPad. She said reading them on the iPad helped her to understand the stories better and she enjoyed being able to listen to the stories and interact with the animations on the screen.

Wheelers online marketing manager Rebecca Barlow said the company had about 150,000 ebooks for sale, and ebook sales to schools were continually growing.

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She said ebooks worked much like hard copy books, when it came to hiring them.

The library would purchase the books, and could only hire out as many copies as it had bought - ebooks could not be duplicated and shared at the same time between devices.

They would eventually delete after they had been hired out a certain length of time. She said the prices of the ebooks were up to the publisher of the book and the book's supplier.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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