Why eBooks?

This initiative provides an additional pathway for students to access reading materials and to read widely. It complements, but does not replace, existing infrastructure and programs that provide access to physical books. Ebook reading is growing rapidly and should be available to all children and youth, regardless of family income.

How does it work?

In-need youth have unlimited access to titles in the app. They can 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 in one of two ways: entering an access code and PIN provided by a person registered with First Book, or logging in with a Clever login if the district has enabled Open eBooks usage for the student's school.

How does Open eBooks relate to other projects that provide access to eBooks?

The Open eBooks initiative is intended to complement other existing eBook reading projects, as well as the services of public libraries across the country.

Who will be able to use the app?

Screenshot of the Open eBooks appThe app will be available to low-income youth, special education classrooms, and children in military families. An educator – either a teacher, program leader, or librarian – may sign up and request access codes through First Book. Title I schoolwide programs whose districts utilize Clever can ask their district administrator to enable Open eBooks in their dashboard.

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.

Will this initiative teach digital literacy?

While this initiative is not focused on teaching digital literacy skills, the application is a useful resource for a range of libraries and schools in their ongoing efforts to teach digital literacy and excite children about reading and learning.

Is this a government program?

No, this is not a government program. The initiative is a partnership between three existing nonprofits (NYPL, DPLA and First Book) and is made possible by generous contributions of service from Baker & Taylor and Clever, and content from top children’s book publishers. Elements of the project have been supported by grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and commitments from publishers through the ConnectED initiative. There is no new federal budget line or staff associated with the project.


How do I get started with First Book?

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 at firstbook.org/openebooks. Once signed up, educators can request access codes for Open eBooks at fbmarketplace.org/openebooks.

If you are interested in accessing Open eBooks for your family and are not an educator, librarian or program lead, please direct your child’s educator to this site to request an Open eBooks access code on your child’s behalf.

How do I get started with Clever?

Clever is a secure educational login platform that allows students to access a suite of educational apps with one login. Districts using Clever can add Open eBooks to their dashboard, and students in Title I schools will have access to the app upon downloading it to their device. For more, visit the Clever Help Center.

If your school offers Title I targeted assistance, or only a subset of the school qualifies for Open eBooks (e.g. a special education classroom), please register with First Book.

Can I register for my school district?

First Book does not offer qualification at the district level. District administrators should encourage school administrators to register their individual schools.

Clever can be enabled at the district level. School districts using Clever will be able to grant access to qualifying schools; all district schools may not qualify.

Is Open eBooks available to home school students?

Access codes are not available to individuals; only a program administrator can register through First Book. Home school students living in low-income areas are encouraged to register with their local library or an after-school program to receive codes. Click here to find your local library.

Is Open eBooks available to special needs classrooms?

Open eBooks access codes are available to teachers or program administrators who primarily serve children with disabilities. You can learn more about obtaining access codes from First Book.

Is Open eBooks available outside the US?

Open eBooks is only available in the United States. Our partner First Book works on other initiatives throughout both the US and Canada. For more information on digital literacy initiatives outside the US, visit Worldreader.org.

Do I need to get one code per student? Or device?

We encourage administrators to request codes for as many students as they have. Students can use their code or Clever login to log in on as many as 6 devices, so if they have access to devices at home, they may use their codes there as well.

Do students need new logins with each school year?

If a student already has a First Book access code, he or she does not need a new one with each school year. If a student would like access to a different collection, e.g. an eighth grader entering high school, a qualifying teacher, librarian or administrator must request the new code through the First Book Marketplace. If a student uses Clever to access Open eBooks, his or her access will change once the student changes schools, and access will depend upon whether the new school uses Clever usage and whether it qualifies for Open eBooks.

If a student logs in using Clever then changes schools, continued access will depend upon whether the new school uses Clever, and whether it qualifies for Open eBooks.


What if I don't own a smartphone or tablet, and don't have internet access?

Open eBooks is meant to complement the growing number of local school and library programs that provide access to devices and the Internet. Youth can access eBooks through their school or library-loaned devices as well as their family’s devices. More and more families either own or have local access to devices on which eBooks can be read. A recent Pew Internet survey showed that more than half of those earning less than $30,000 per year have a smartphone capable of reading an eBook, and more than a quarter have tablets. Another national survey published earlier this year found that 85 percent of families with young children (6-13 years old) living below the poverty line have access to mobile devices. Still more can access and borrow e-reading devices through their local school and library, a trend that complements this program. For many of these families and students, smartphones and tablets are their primary internet access method, and they often use locations such as public libraries and schools for Wi-Fi access—where they will be able to download the books in this program, as well as check out physical books. Open eBooks can dramatically alter the reading landscape by providing access to books through millions of devices already in the hands of young people and their families.

What platforms are the Open eBooks app available on?

The app is currently available on iOS and Android. Subsequent versions will be optimized to support as many open platforms as possible. We are working on a desktop version to extend the application to more platforms, which will allow for web browser usage on other tablets, laptops, and desktops. We are working to ensure students will be able to access Open eBooks from many forms of technology. Please stay tuned for product developments.

Will the app be available on Chromebooks?

We were excited to learn that Google would be making the Google Play Store available on Chromebooks. It is currently available on the newest version of Chromebooks, and Google is working to make the Google Play Store available on all versions. Please stay tuned for product developments.

Will the app be available on Kindle?

We are exploring the option of making the app available on devices that require proprietary formats, like Nook and Kindle.

Does “unlimited access” mean the books will be free of Digital Rights Management?

In-need youth can borrow up to 10 books at a time and replace each book with a new book as many times as they’d like. The contributed eBooks will include Adobe Digital Rights Management software, which means that the book will be visible only to the student who is accessing it and cannot be shared.

How is users’ privacy protected and respected?

No personally identifiable information is captured about the children using the Open eBooks application. For more information, see the Open eBooks privacy policy.

Please see the First Book privacy policy and the Clever privacy policy for more on how our partners capture user information during the authentication process.

Are individual readers’ activity tracked?

No, individual readers' activity are not tracked. Reading will be tracked anonymously and in the aggregate. A student’s privacy is paramount and the partners will work tirelessly to ensure that student privacy is maintained at all times.

I’m having technical difficulties. Who do I contact for help?

First, visit our Help Center to find instructions on using the app.

The Open eBooks app allows you to report errors from inside the app. This is the fastest way for our tech team to resolve the issue.

If you’re still experiencing difficulties, submit a helpdesk request.

For help logging in with Clever, please visit https://support.clever.com/hc/en-us.

Will this initiative teach digital literacy?

While this initiative is not focused on teaching digital literacy skills, the application is a useful resource for a range of libraries and schools in their ongoing efforts to teach digital literacy and excite children about reading and learning.


Does it work for people who are print-disabled?

Yes. Built with Readium’s rendering engine, the Open eBooks App takes advantage of the accessibility features that are native to the EPUB3 format in which the books are rendered. Open eBooks is compatible with Apple and Android’s Text to Speech (TTS). In the future we plan to improve the implementation of Readium to make this even more robust.

We're working on improving the experience and accessibility in future updates and versions of the app and its content. Again, making this content accessible is a top priority and we are working with all our industry partners to make progress in this area.

We also encourage families, teachers and librarians of readers with print disabilities to try applications like BARD, BookShare, and Learning Ally. These great resources can help students build an even bigger collection of eBooks.

How does it work for readers with Dyslexia?

Open eBooks supports Open Dyslexic Font for those with Dyslexia.

To enable:


How are eBooks selected?

Publishers have generously contributed thousands of titles to Open eBooks. In order to ensure that Open eBooks provides books that speak to America’s diverse population and range of perspectives, DPLA's Curation Corps handles collection development. The goal is to create a compelling and appropriately targeted set of thousands of titles—stories that could potentially spark a lifetime love of reading.

What publishers committed to provide eBooks for students in in-need families?

Below is the list of the contributing publishers:

May I see a list of all the eBooks available?

Open eBooks features thousands of titles generously contributed by our publishers. We do not make a list of titles available as it is continuing to evolve. You can get an idea of what is available by visiting our Tumblr and Pinterest pages.

Are the eBooks culturally diverse? Are there titles available in languages other than English?

Open eBooks is strongly committed to creating a diverse collection for all ages. Despite wonderful efforts, only 10% of children’s books contain multicultural content. According to a study from publisher Lee & Low, this number has remained consistent for the past two decades.

The Open eBooks Curation Corps is keenly focused on this issue, and we are continuing to grow the collection with diversity as a priority. Open eBooks contains a growing number of Spanish-language titles, and we plan to add more non-English languages.

Can I sort eBooks by reading level instead of grade level?

Open eBooks is currently organized into three collections: early grades, middle grades, and high school. Administrators can request access codes based on readers’ needs; there is also an option to request codes that give access to all three collections. However, there is currently no way to organize by reading level. Code administrators could give a reader access to a more appropriate collection based on reading level, but there is no way to filter material that may be too mature topically. This is left to the discretion of the teacher, librarian, administrator or parent, as with all reading material.


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