F68F3102-04C6-4946-AE71-AAE8D601D73EOpen eBooks, launched on 24 February, is an initiative to encourage reading by children. You can look at an introductory video delivered by FLOTUS at the Open eBooks website. The project is a partnership between Digital Public Library of America, The New York Public Library, and First Book, with content support from digital books distributor Baker & Taylor. There are 10 publishers supplying content now. Once they’ve signed up, kids can read as much as they want via an app (assuming they have access to the internet) . The problem of lack of access seems to be going away, in USA at least. As Dan Cohen, Executive Director of DPLA,  says in a Digital Book World interview “we found in recent surveys that 85 percent of households within the poverty line own a device that’s able to host the app. This is a population where ebooks have started to take off as a supplement rather than replacements for physical books.”

Publishing Perspectives had an introductory story by Dennis Abrams, and there’s a thorough description of the program at the DPLA site.

This is clearly an excellent idea, and we await word on adoption rates. Print mavens may of course regard it as another threat, but anything that gets people reading at an early age has to be a benefit to book publishing in the long run.

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