Friday, October 10, 2008

E-books vs "real" books

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to review a planner that is a for-purchase download from the internet. Last week, the company sent three e-modules as a thank-you for participating in the review of the planner. And last night, I received details about an e-class that I will review over the next few weeks.

I have a secret to admit: I like "real" books and "real" courses, the ones that I can hold in my hands, flip through, books that are tangible, and are something *known*. I would not have bought an unknown planner or unseen e-module and I would not have registered/paid for information from an e-class with little-to-no information about it. (The planner and the e-modules are very well done, I must say, and I have used bits and pieces from all of them, which is a trust-builder for me in terms of items offered by the schoolhouse store. I'll have to let you know about the e-class as it unfolds.)

I have a tendency to collect books, and it's a tendency I have to fight, for both financial reasons and lack of space at home. There is no end to the books about autism, and I'm discovering now that there is no end to the books about homeschooling, too. My strategy for choosing books about autism will work for books about homeschooling, I thought, until I became aware of all these "e-" opportunities.

When I am researching a particular topic that reaches into autism, I start with a couple of web sites open, side by side, and one is my local library, and the other is a major bookseller. A subject search yields a list on each web page, and I can begin digging from there. The bookseller offers a table of contents and some sample passages, and suggestions on titles with similar subject matter. I have the option to click on a link that will show me what other people bought with this selection. The library gives me a list of reference categories that this book falls within. Using all of those tools, I'm able to expand my search until I narrow my selection. Before I buy a book, I want to look at it, hold it in my hands, ask myself if it is something to read once or something to keep at home as a reference. And if my library doesn't own a copy, I have them find it for me using interlibrary loan. If I'm in a hurry, I can drive to a bookstore and hold the book in my hands, preview it up close and in person, as I decide if it will be helpful at home.

An e-book, e-module, e-class, on the other hand, is a complete unknown, and I must hand over my money before I can peek inside, without knowing the quality of the information inside, without knowing whether it is information I've already researched, without knowing whether it fits our situation. Often, I am familiar with the authors of books, and that familiarity gives me a bit of trust. On the other hand, many of the e-book authors are complete unknowns to me, and I don't yet have that trust in the unknown product. I am completely dependent upon the writer of the description of the e-whatever to give me enough information to make a decision, and if that description falls short or is cheerfully deceptive, I may skip an item that I should have purchased or buy one that I should not have.

Maybe I'm just being resistant to change and need to be more flexible? Obviously, my method of research must change as I consider e-selections. I'm just not sure what my new method will be...

PS: Thanks to Heidi for spotlighting this article as I am musing the concept of e-books:

1 comment:

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

dang girl- you are suppose to tell me when you have a blog i can read!! love it!

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou -

Stat Counter