All posts by Peyton Stafford

Peyton Stafford has over thirty years experience in publishing for libraries. His first library job came at age twelve, when he became a student assistant at his junior high school library. At age fifteen, the local public library janitor tapped him to mow the lawn and clean the library for a week while the janitor went on vacation. Peyton instantly foresaw a future for himself. After putting himself through college and graduate school by working in academic libraries, he worked with many publishers and resellers involved in producing and distributing print and digital information resources for libraries of all kinds. Currently, he holds an executive position with an ebook distributor, provides consulting services to several publishers, and advises authors. He lives in Oregon and only half-jokingly says that he commutes to New York for work. Outside of book publishing and literature, his widely varied interests include reading, going to the library, visiting bookstores, editing books, and creative writing. At the end of a long day, he likes nothing better than getting away from it all by reading in bed. When he is on vacation, you may find him admiring bookstores and libraries wherever he travels.

Ebook Models in K-12 Libraries, Part 3—Choosing Ebook Platforms

This is the third in a series of  articles on ebook  models in K-12 or school libraries. The first article was about why school librarians would want to know about anything as abstract as an ebook business model (hint: knowing the basic models will help you choose the best products to meet your library’s goals). The second article examined the four basic models and boiled them down to their simplest levels. One treats ebooks like printed books. One treats ebooks like journal articles. One treats ebooks like books in a bookstore. One treats ebooks like shared resources. Today’s article will show how to use these basic concepts to select the best kinds of ebook products for your library.

Some issues to keep in mind

Before going further, let’s look at some of the issues that come with ebooks in school libraries. We want to have these in mind as we consider how to create a combination of products with different ebook business models. These issues involve three areas: the supplier’s platform and business model, assuring that the ebooks are used to support the educational goals of the school, and bridging the digital divide.

To begin with the platform and business model issues, we need to understand what an ebook platform is, and why it is important. We already know what a business model is and how the four kinds of business models affect school libraries. The platform is the specific technology that an ebook supplier uses to provide ebooks. It includes a web-based interface for student use. It may include apps that make the books readable on mobile devices. It will have an administrative interface or dashboard for you to use so you can control loan periods, track usage, etc. It may also have a teacher interface so that teachers can assign reading to students, and then monitor their progress. If you need to select and purchase individual ebooks before your students can read them, it will also include a book ordering function. In other words, the platform supports everything you, your students and your teachers do with ebooks. Without the platform, you cannot use the ebooks. Continue reading Ebook Models in K-12 Libraries, Part 3—Choosing Ebook Platforms

The Four Basic Ebook Models for K-12 Libraries

This is the second article in a three-part series on ebook business models in K-12 libraries. In the first article, we looked at what a business model is and at the four main kinds of ebook business models that K-12 librarians need to know about. In this article, we will look at each of the four basic models in more depth and glance at some examples of them. We will not attempt to compare product offerings in depth, but I will mention an example or two of each model. Because ebook technology is still in its early stages, the platforms and feature sets of each offering change rapidly, so any comparison is bound to be a snapshot at best.

If there is enough interest in an up-to-date comparison, I may write a series of comparison articles after this series has been completed. In the third article, I will draw some conclusions and provide links to other articles on ebooks in K-12 libraries, including some in-depth comparisons. After reading the three articles, you will be able to see how any ebook offering is based on one or more of the four basic ebook business models. This will help you decide whether or not the offering will help your library achieve its goals.

As you read, keep in mind that ebooks are not simply digital versions of printed books. Legally, they are licensed as software, so when you buy an ebook you are buying a license to use a piece of software. You are not buying a physical object. You do not own it in the same way that you would own a printed book. Technologically, they are completely different, too. While they may look like pictures of books on the screen, under the skin they are software.

On the one hand, this brings some limitations, but at the same time, it is possible to use ebook technology to empower readers in ways that cannot be done with print technology. Continue reading The Four Basic Ebook Models for K-12 Libraries

K-12 Ebook Business Models and Why You Should Care About Them

“Why do I sometimes feel that the conditions I have to accept when I buy ebooks do not work well for me or for my students?”

“I’ve heard the term business model, and I’d like to understand how business models affect me in the real world of my work. But I don’t want to spend a lot of time learning about them. I just want a basic understanding.”


If you are a school librarian, and these ebook questions are on your mind, then please continue reading.

This is the first article in a three-part series on ebooks in K-12 or school libraries. It is intended for school librarians who want a basic understanding of how ebook business models work in their world, and of how to make them work as much as possible to the librarian’s advantage.

The first article will look at business models and their importance, and then sketch out the main kinds of ebook business models that K-12 librarians have to deal with. The second article will look at the models in more depth and give examples of how they work in practice. It will also discuss platform issues. The third article will draw a few conclusions and point out some ways that librarians can skillfully use their knowledge of ebook business models to stretch their budgets and better serve their students. Continue reading K-12 Ebook Business Models and Why You Should Care About Them