President Obama is expected to announce today a program to bring free e-books to low-income students. White House officials told reporters yesterday that several book publishers have agreed to provide e-books in the program valued at $250 million.
In addition, the president will seek commitments from local governments and schools to put programs in place to help ensure that every U.S. student has a library card, officials said.
The Low-Income Free E-Book Program
The low-income free e-book program builds on the ConnectED initiative that Obama launched two years ago. That initiative aims to bring high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity to the vast majority of U.S. schools within five years.
The FCC subsequently formalized Obama’s school broadband plans and raised the funding cap on the Universal Service E-rate schools and libraries program, through which the initiative will be funded. That program is funded by the telecom industry as a percentage of carriers’ long-distance voice revenues. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said increased funding would add no more than sixteen cents to a consumer’s phone bill.
The ConnectED school broadband initiative also included commitments from the private sector to provide materials at no cost to low-income students. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon agreed to provide equipment and training to help support Obama’s digital learning initiatives.
U.S. News and World Report and The Associated Press report that publishers participating in Obama’s free e-book initiative include Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House.