I just stumbled across Mackin’s summer free ebooks bundle offer, which ends May 31st. If you sign up for a VIA account, or if you already have one, you can get 30 or so free ebooks. There are different titles for elementary, middle, and high schools, so get them while they’re hot!
Overall, the bundle is a mix of classics with clipart-esque covers (not terribly attractive, but more enticing than Project Gutenberg’s public domain covers) and some more current titles. I haven’t opened mine yet, so I don’t know if they are simultaneous access, or one-user limited. Still, it’s a nice way to test-drive the VIA platform.
After speaking with customer service through the Live Chat feature (really cool!), I found out that they’ll also send the MARC records that have links in them. That means that even if I don’t like the VIA apps/platform, I still have access to the books.
One thing that I don’t like about the available platforms for ebook management is the extra layers of DRM, passwords, and click-through menus for students and staff. I think overall, there’s just not a seamless enough solution. I want users to just click the title in the catalog and have it open automatically. No usernames or passwords, and no extra steps that could lead to extra pitfalls. I’ll try out VIA for now (I’ve already nixed Follett’s platform as too clunky for our needs), and I’ll review it here later.
I have to admit the apps are a nice touch. The issue I have there, however, is that by promoting the apps for the platform, I’m NOT promoting our school library, just Mackin or Follett’s company. I have a problem with that because it’s harder to advocate when the e-content I’m promoting doesn’t have a district or school customizable logo anywhere on the host website. And yet when there’s a problem, I get to deal with the frustrations of using said app or platform, as I’m “in charge” of the library content/catalog. For now, we’ll just see how it goes.