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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

We Need Diverse eBooks Too, Y’know


Here is what in truth is just a query masquerading as a legitimate blog post.  I am never above misusing my power when I’m curious.  And while I’m sure somebody somewhere has brought this up, I certainly can’t recall it being as big a topic as it could be.

The other day I was talking with some folks about ebooks and the state of electronic publishing for kids today.  Now as you may or may not know, most library systems don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to purchasing e-materials.  At New York Public Library we were a large system so we could afford to buy ebooks from Overdrive, 3M, as well as stuff like Freegal.  Here at Evanston Public Library we just have Overdrive and Hoopla.

Now the thing about ebooks is that only a small selection of print materials come out in ebook form in any given season.  A colleague of mine recently decided that it would be a good idea to buy a bunch of diverse ebooks for their collection, so they tried to find as many as they could that were available for purchase.  The problem?  For as few diverse children’s books as we see each and every year, we see even fewer diverse ebooks.

So I put it to you: Is this a problem that is already being discussed and addressed, or is this something we should make a concerted effort to rectify?  Have studies been done on this already and I’m just late to the party?  I honestly don’t know so I put it to you.  If you have some knowledge to drop on me, drop it.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Hi Elizabeth! I honestly think if the mainstream world of publishing was a little less judgmental about indie authors (giving them more inclusion in prestigious review sites, award submissions, distribution routes and overall opportunities to participate in areas of this industry that only includes and highlights traditionally published authors) then this would introduce a much more diverse, unique and openly creative environment for all of us. As usual and still, It seems the pub world (for obvious reasons) just focuses on what sells (traditionally). Of course certain requirements and standards must be passed in order to guarantee only the finest books are being accepted, but at least make it fair for all authors to submit.

    Give the children what they need and open the gates! Let the diverse ebooks flow…

  2. It’s not just children’s books. Here are the stats on Adult books in Hoopla, provided by Hoopla reps:

    African American Fiction

    Ebooks: 295

    African American History

    Audiobooks: 56

    Ebooks: 11

    Hispanic and Latino Fiction

    Audiobooks: 4

    Ebooks: 53

    Urban Fiction

    Audiobooks: 82

    Ebooks: 46

    LGBTQ is a bit better:

    Ebooks: 8,363

    No figure for audiobooks. It’s also weird that while these are all designated categories in Hoopla, users can’t select these fro recommendations the way they can, say “westerns” or “mysteries”.

    Overdrive is a bit better:

    African American fiction 161
    African American nf 44
    Urban fiction. 16

    But abysmal for LGBTQ 16

    And no designated category for Latin@ or Hispanic.