From Technology

Adding Content to Kindles

As part of the Alternative Textbook Initiative, Professor Laura Gibbs, purchased with her award numerous titles that are being cataloged now and will soon be available in Bizzell. Dr. Gibbs purchased a large set of graphic novels, print books, DVDs, and a host of digital content that is being made available through the Library’s Kindles. As I understand, there have been five kindles available for checkout at the Library’s reserve desk for a couple years now, but they rarely get checked out. Perhaps this is because few students know that the Kindles are available. Perhaps it is because until now there were only a few textbooks on the devices. Whatever the case, Dr. Gibbs hopes that her students will make use of the Kindles as her class is structured in such a way that her students are given reading assignments where they choose from a few titles which they would like to read. Dr. Gibbs hopes that the ebooks and audiobooks that she has made available will be attractive options for her students.

As the Kindles do not seem to have a specific manager here in the library right now, specifically a person to contact about adding content to the devices, Stacy and I were happy to step in to assist Dr. Gibbs in making this content available to her students. In order to add these titles to the Kindles we had several questions that were answered along the way that we thought should be shared with those who might be interested in adding books to the Kindles in the future.

We used Google spreadsheets to communicate with Dr. Gibbs about which books we needed to purchase and add to the Kindles. Dr. Gibbs sent us a great spreadsheet that included links to Amazon where the books could be purchased. We used those links to make an Amazon wish list for the library’s purchasing department to use when they purchased the books. In order for this to happen, the purchasing department shared the library’s Amazon account information with us in order for us to create a wish list under the library’s account. I’m sure they were at least a little understandably uncomfortable sharing that information with us. In the future, I think it would be best for the person making the request to compile an Amazon wishlist and then share it with us so that we can pass it along to the purchasing department. This would prevent the sharing of any account information and it might prevent the human errors that are bound to occur when going back and forth between Amazon and a spreadsheet. -just things to keep in mind to make this easier in the future.

The first hurdle came when we realized that parental controls had been enabled on each device which prevented them from connecting to a wireless internet connection and therefore prevented users from purchasing content under the library’s Amazon account. Because several people who were in charge of setting up the Kindles when they were purchased no longer work in the library, we had a little trouble tracking down the password to remove the parental controls. Quinn Davis, in Library Tech Platforms, was finally able to unlock the Kindles for us so that we could add content to them. We made sure not to forget to have him also enable the parental controls before they were returned to the circulation desk. Thanks, Quinn!

The library owns five Kindles. All of which are registered under a single Amazon account. That is, it would appear to Amazon that one person owns five devices. We were unsure whether or not we would need to purchase an individual license for each device we wanted to load the content onto or whether a single license would do. We read conflicting accounts regarding this online and also could not find the answer to our specific question on Amazon’s support pages. I’m here to tell you that this post will not outline a definitive answer either. Dr. Gibbs requested that a copy of each book on her list be made available on as many Kindles as possible, but at the very least on two of them. We were afraid that license terms would vary across ebook publishers resulting in there being three Kindles with certain titles, two with one specific title, and the others might each have a copy of the remaining titles, for example. Rather than continue searching for an answer to our question, we decided to purchase a single license of each book Dr. Gibbs requested and have it “delivered” to one specific device. It turns out that once a single license had been purchased and delivered to a single device, all the other devices simply needed to be sync’d to themselves each download a copy of every book that had been purchased. -a favorable result. Let it be noted that there were indeed a few textbooks on the devices before we started working with them. The licenses of those titles do not appear to be as flexible as those purchased by Dr. Gibbs. Some of those books could only be loaded onto a device or two at once. The books need to be transferred from one device to another, but could not be on all device simultaneously. Those books were published by large publishers and likely have more restrictive licenses than those purchased by Dr. Gibbs. To confirm our results, I spread out the five kindles on my desk and opened each resource on all devices simultaneously to make sure that there would be no problems once the device are put into circulation.

Until there is a specific person in the library to contact about purchasing and adding books or audibooks to the Kindles, I would be more than happy to be the person who coordinates that effort. Like I mentioned, I can’t do it all myself, but I would be happy to bring those people together if it means directing some love towards the Kindles.