The library now has four Nooks and two iPads that have the Nook app on them. Although Barnes and Noble has not officially limited the number of devices that a book can reside on, it is a common industry standard to limit the devices to six. The frugal Scottish part of me is thrilled that we can purchase one book, and it can be downloaded onto six devices, which nicely stretches the limited book budget; however, there is also the fact that authors, editors, and yes, even the mammoth publishing houses do need to make some money in their book creation and distribution endeavors. It will be interesting to see if this six device standard remains as more school libraries begin circulating eReaders.
Unfortunately, the six device limit does not apply to the iPad. If you have 30 iPads, 30 copies of an iBook need to be purchased. Currently, there is no educational volume purchasing for iBooks (like there is for the Apps), but there may be in the future. The device limit (traditionally 5 per itunes account) was designed to be shared within a family, not among iPads circulating among high school students. I've never viewed the iPad as competition for the Kindle, Nook, or other eReaders. One cannot replace the other. I see them as siblings (one being extremely "gifted" with diverse talents (the iPad) and the sibling (the Nook) as the steady, practical, focused one that is extremely bright but somewhat limited). Nooks are for reading books; the iPad is primarily used for accessing web-based resources, educational apps, as well as content creation, so . . . the iBook limitation has not impacted our purchasing decisions.
The whole six device per ebook has led to a curious but logical discovery as it relates to circulating the Nooks in the library. Since the devices were originally designed for one owner (for example, let's say I own a Nook, but I have the Nook app on my Android phone, iPad, and iPod touch), the eBook that I'm reading will be "bookmarked" so that regardless of which device I am reading the book on, it will keep track of which chapter I'm currently reading--an amazing feature. Now, let's add five Nooks to that scenario (minus all the Nook apps), and there are five students--and occasionally one librarian--reading different books on one of the Nooks. When I open up one of the Nooks, I am never greeted with the eBook I was previously reading; instead it will open to the book that the last student who is using one of the other Nooks is reading. There are no names assigned to each Nook or ebook being read, so privacy is not an issue, but I'll have to admit--as a librarian/teacher--it's encouraging to see that the Nooks are not just being checked out and sitting in a student locker or back-pack but are actually being used for reading . . . a lot.