Donny Khalaf

Thousands of Free eBooks Available for Title 1 Schools and Others

In Free apps, Free Book(s), Technology on March 8, 2016 at 2:38 pm

The White House announced yesterday the launch of the Open eBooks App, an initiative that will provide thousands of free ebooks to all students in Title 1 and military base schools, along with all special education students. The free app will work on a wide variety of devices and allows users to access books that are normally not free. Ten major publishers, including Penguin Random House and National Geographic, provided the books. To create the app and curate the eBook collection, the White House partnered with the Digital Public Library of America, First Book, and The New York Public Library, as well as digital books distributor Baker & Taylor and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Any adult who works in a Title I (or Title I eligible) school, or a program or library that serves at least 70% of children from in-need families, can sign up with First Book. Once registered, educators can request access codes for Open eBooks. Students may borrow up to 10 books at a time and replace each book with a new book as many times as they’d like. To get access to the app, they—or an adult working with them—can download the app and enter credentials provided by a person registered with First Book to enable access to the eBooks.

The app is currently available on iOS and Android. Subsequent versions will be optimized to support as many open platforms as possible. There will be a web-optimized version coming in 2016. The partners are also exploring the option of making the app available on devices that require proprietary formats, like Nook and Kindle. Open eBooks uses the EPUB3 standard, but will expand to include PDFs sometime this year.  Built with Readium’s rendering engine, the Open eBooks App takes advantage of the accessibility features that are native to EPUB3 and so works for people who are print-disabled.

Over the next three years, the partners will expand the initiative by adding to the collection with new and expanded content from publishers and public domain titles; broadening the network of Title I schools and preschools that are engaged with promoting the resource; incorporating new features into improving the functionality of the app; and researching and sharing the effort’s impact and best practices.

To sign up for Open eBooks and acquire the app, or to get more information, visit

Thanks to TCEA Blog for this information.

Donny Khalaf 😉


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