Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review of Embracing the E-Book Revolution

I have a confession to make: like the contributors to the E-Book “Embracing the E-book Revolution”, I, too, am an E-Book junkie. While I would never permanently trade the delicious experience of a “real” book, I recognize the immense value of E-Books – both the financial and educational value. Due to the fact that I consider myself something of an E-Book connoisseur, I was skeptical as to whether I would learn anything from this new 42 page offering from The Old Schoolhouse’s storefront. What a pleasant surprise I had in store for me as I delved into the E-pages!
Once again, as is often the case with offerings from The Old Schoolhouse, about half of the nine chapters are written by names that should be quite familiar to many homeschoolers. All of the chapters end with brief biographies, demonstrating that each author is eminently qualified to comment on the subject of E-Books in particular, and homeschooling in general, which I find to be quite a nice touch. In two separate cases, I found myself navigating to the Internet in order to find out more about these particular, less familiar (at least to me) authors.
One of the best features of this E-Book is that there truly is something for everyone. Whether you, like me, are already a fan and a user of E-Books, or whether, like many of the homeschooling moms I know, you are just slightly intimidated or put-off by the whole idea of electronic media, you will find something helpful in this E-Book. The chapter entitled “E-Books: How am I supposed to Read Them?” is a great primer for someone very new to the genre. If you have never downloaded an E-Book, you might want to start here. Kim Kargbo walks you step-by-step through the process of reading, printing, binding, and storing E-Books.

For someone more familiar with this type of media, though, chapters five and six on the topic of storing E-Books will be particularly delightful. Isabelle Lussier and Michelle Amos have so many great ideas for organizing and storing E-Books. After all, E-Books are useless if, once downloaded, you can’t find them on your computer! Whether you prefer a more micro or macro approach to your organizational technique, both of these chapters include some impressive ideas guaranteed to help you find your E-Books more efficiently.
While all of the information contained in this E-Book is well worth reading, it is the other features of the E-Book that make it truly exceptional. The glossary at the end of the book is a huge a bonus for those people unfamiliar with E-Books, as it defines key terms used throughout the book. Best of all, these terms are hyperlinked in the text. Perhaps you’re reading along, mesmerized by the possibilities of these things called E-Books, when you come to p. 31, and find that your E-Books can be stored on a flash drive. The only problem is, you have never heard of a flash drive. No problem. Merely clicking on the words will take you immediately to a definition of the term at the end of the E-Book. Problem solved, with almost no interruption in your reading.

In addition to the glossary, though, all of the companies mentioned in the E-Book, including many homeschool favorites such as Homeschool in the Woods and The Mystery of History, are hyperlinked as well. Effectively, if you click on the company’s name, you are directed to that company’s website on the Internet. Thus, the E-Book “Embracing the E-Book Revolution” demonstrates one of the very best features of E-Books in general: the ability to navigate the Internet directly from a book! Thus, the activities of reading and research are truly integrated in a unique and amazingly advantageous way! Everything from lesson planning to writing your own E-Book (another topic quite ably covered in this E-Book) is now so much easier than ever!
Finally, since you will now certainly want to delve even further into the universe of E-Books, “Embracing the E-Book Revolution” provides several sites for you to explore. I can personally vouch for the treasure trove of material to be found at all of them. The one thing that this E-Book does not mention is that you can actually be a part of making even more E-Books available to the general public! Both The Baldwin Project and Project Gutenberg, two of the sites mentioned in “Embracing the E-Book Revolution”, rely on volunteer proofreaders to bring even more E-Books to their sites. Anyone can be a volunteer proofreader for these sites (I volunteer for both!). It is one more way to bring more E-Books to more people – an idea that I feel certain the authors responsible for “Embracing the E-Book Revolution” would endorse!

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