So I suppose I should pen something of substance here-as I have neglected the weightier posts for some time.
The decision to purchase eBooks, versus the hard copy of the product, has absorbed more and more of my thoughts lately. Because I am a reviewer for the TOS Crew, I receive the majority of the products in the eFormat, than I do in print form. And that is where my quandary begins.
I totally understand the eFormat idea for selling products, I truly do. After all, you get the item almost instantaneously, you can (usually-all though this is not always the case-we'll discuss that later) print as needed and for many applications-it is a perfect fit. But what about the downsides to this relatively new idea? Unfortunately, for a hold-it-in-my hands kinda gal, there are plenty. So how do I advise my fellow blogger friends regarding this issue?
For starters, I wanted to address the negatives, so that I can end on a positive note. I am not a huge fan of them-I simply am not. Honestly, I would rather have something in my hands, that I can refer to in a moments notice, without the need to hunt it down on my computer (and sometimes, that means booting the thing up too). I do not like having to read a long, "thick" eBook on the computer screen-it hurts my eyes after a time. I am not fond of the possibility that I can "loose" the material and never see it again-even though I do my best to back the file up onto a secondary source-sometimes I do forget.
I am also not thrilled that when and if I choose to print-I have now tacked on several dollars worth of expense in ink and paper costs, and the additional cost of providing something to store it in (which for me is usually a 3-Ring binder and protective sheet covers). I am not happy to know that I have no resale options involved with an eBook. You bought and now you own it-with no possibility of recouping some of the expense of it, when your family has finished with it. I also am much more liable to forget what I have in eBook form, therefore, missing out on using the material when I need it. I am fortunate enough to have High Speed Internet connection, so downloading the products is not usually an issue. But many of my friends simply do not live in an area that can accommodate the cable connection/satellite dish option (or their phone service does not have the capability to provide internet thru their pre-existing wiring). Obviously this is a big issue, as they simply cannot purchase products in this manner-they wouldn't get them or it would literally take days to upload.
Doesn't sound too appealing when I lay it out like that does it? Well, there are actually some positives to going this route. For one, like I already stated-you get it almost immediately. No waiting anxiously for the thing to arrive (and sometimes-all battered and torn due to bad handling) or wondering if it is MIA in the mail system. Printed copies are nice, but let's face it-somewhere along the line, if you want to print off parts of it for your students, there is going to a run to a local print shop or library to do so. And once there, you are at the mercy of the copier (I cannot tell you how many times the ink was low so it was a cruddy copy, paper jammed or the machine itself was "Out of Order") and soon realize you just wasted your time, gas and money to get a couple prints made. With eBooks, you are usually able to print what you need, when you need it (again see above paragraph about the expense issue involved) as many times as necessary. Now, I have to be clear here-there is a batch of folks out there who do not honor the protocol of not selling or incorrectly using the copyrighted material.
Because of this tragic situation-many companies have had to purchase programs that create limiting parameters for the purchaser of the products. For instance, one product that has come across my desk, can only be printed a certain number of times and that is it. So it is an all or nothing type of deal-and I am not fond of that. I don't always have the time, ink/paper or money to print the whole enchilada-so I am bound to the computer for its use. I am on the side of the company on this-I don't think they like it either, but they also have to protect their investment. So, what it comes down to, is that at times the purchase has additional limitations -rendering it one of those get the print version whenever you can moments.
I am not sounding very positive, but alas, there are some great benefits to the eVersions of products. Seriously, there are. The whole trick to deciding betwixt the two-is to know what your need is for that particular product. I wouldn't suggest purchasing a whole curricula on eFormat if you or your child need to have access to it rather frequently, or if the cost of it is at or just below the print version. I need to do a separate paragraph to address that issue-but a good rule of thumb is this: if you need to see, touch, and use it more than you can to spend in front of the computer screen-get it in print form whenever you can. The second rule of the "Wise eFormat Purchases" is to consider its application. Lapbooks/Notebooking and Workbox activities are perfect for the eBook set up. With all of the printing needs of such projects, this is truly the only way to go. In fact, the majority of my files are lapbook kits and Workbox activity worksheets and projects. I can print as needed, as often as necessary and find I can control many of the aesthetic choices involved (IE: color and type of paper for example).
Another great aspect is that they (eVersions) are so tiny that they do not (when not printed out and packaged in a binder) take up much space at all-and if they remain in eFormat-no space at all on your (jam packed?) bookshelves. If you are overseas, in a remote area or in a situation where space is a total issue, they are great for meeting your needs. No oversea shipping costs (and a lot of companies do not ship there anyway, so it is the only option for procuring the product), you can have a lot of product/data for your homeschool library without all the clutter and again-you have it almost as soon as you purchase it. These are all admirable and wonderful pluses to such products.
Because this is getting rather long in the tooth-I will end this post here, and will pick it up again in another one soon. Let it be said, that regardless as to what is better for my family's needs-yours will be different. You will need to take into consideration all the factors that make an eBook VS a printed version of a product right for you-before you buy.
Look for the second installment soon-until then....