July 30, 2009

Changing the Way We Read

Recently Serona and purchased Sony Ereader Books, he bought the 505 model and I bought the Sony 700. I have been following electronic book technology for a few years now, both excited and hesitant at the same time. I loved the concept, thought the price point was too high, and positive I would miss holding a physical book.

The Amazon Kindle has received most of the attention recently but I was much more impressed with Sony, especially by their lack of DRM (Digital Rights Management) and deal with Google Books. I received quite a bit of birthday money recently from family and decided it was time to give it a try and I have no regrets, I love my ebook reader.

I have had it for about 2 months now and have read 7 complete books and parts of another 8 books that are ongoing now. I have noticed some changes in the way I read and some overall advantages and uses I did not expect. During this time I also went on a 2 week vacation on which I brought the reader. The rest of my reading has been done at home, in the car, at my kids swim practice, at doctors offices and other various errand locations.

A few things I noticed right away. I did not miss holding a physical book at all. The Sony Reader has a nice cover that allows me to hold it in the same fashion as a book if I want to. I can also fold the cover back and have easy one handed reading. The ereader has solved two major issues I have had with reading for a long time: reading one handed and the unwieldy size of many of the books I read. After trying to carry and comfortably read Atlas Shrugged (my last read before this purchase) I found the form factor of the ereader to be delightful. I am currently reading another similarly sized book and find it no more challenging than a small paperback. Since I read often lying down I have always been seeking a one handed solution, trying book weights, stands, and everything of the like, never being satisfied. With the ereader I can easily accomplish both single handed and hands free reading with ease and comfort.

The way the reader has changed my reading style is the fact that I now carry so many books with me all the time. I read more and I read more variety and I rarely get bored of reading anymore because I can switch books instantly. My reader currently has 128 books on it, of those I have only purchased 12, the rest have been acquired legally through free means, mostly from Google books and the free promotions on Sony. This has expanded some of the reading choices I am making as well.

Before the reader I typically was always reading a fiction and non fiction book at the same time, a special book read aloud for each of my kids, a family read aloud and my bible. However I could not carry all of those books with me all the time so it would vary which I was reading and depending on the size of the book which I might bring with me on errands. Now I have all of them everywhere I go. I find my bible reading time has dramatically increased as I always have it with me and I love being able to highlight and save notations (side margin notes) I also can read my youngest a chapter from her special book while in a waiting room for the other children and then switch to my book when she is having her appointment. If I get tired of the fiction book I can switch to a chapter of my non fiction. It is wonderful. I always take the book with me because it fits easily into my purse and is so lightweight. It is easy to pull out for just a few minutes reading and the book knows right where I left off in every single book!

Perhaps the moment I realized how much I really loved my ereader was on vacation. I finished 2 different books on vacation and started several others with my kids. Contrast that with my husband who brought his one hardback book and finished it midway through the trip and had nothing left to read. His book was much larger in size and weight compared to my reader yet at the end of the trip he was carrying dead weight. He chose not to purchase another book on the trip but did start reading one of my books on my reader when I was not using it. When we returned we purchased him an ereader of his own.

Serona typically only reads one book at a time besides his Bible so I am curious to see if he loves his as much as I love mine. However he travels quite a bit more than me and I think will love the portability of the book and no longer worrying about finishing the last chapter of his book before he leaves for the airport. One thing is probably true the airport bookstores will be losing money from him :)

Our 10 year old daughter has been eyeing the ereader and as her birthday just passed she asked can I have one of those? She knew realistically she was not getting one as we had spent her birthday in Walt Disney World! They will need to come down quite a bit in pricepoint before I buy her one but she is someone who would also benefit from them and if they hit the $100 or less mark I could see us purchasing one for her. Of course then I have to feed her reading habit so maybe I will add when the device and book prices come down or when the library gets better about offering digital books for reading. Our local library is testing a digital book reader program now and the larger library near us has one in place, all in good time I suppose.

So would I recommend the Sony EReader? Yes but they are expensive and truthfully the technology is going to always be advancing and eventually the prices are going to drop more and more. I would without a doubt recommend it over the Amazon Kindle with its tight DRM restrictions and ability to remotely delete your books, which they recently used. For the run of the mill reader it might be better to wait another year or two until the market sorts itself out with more options and price competition. For the avid reader who is looking to read more, carry less and have multiple books available to them at a single time no matter where they are then I would say absolutely. These also really make sense to replace textbooks in the near future and save all our kids breaking backs, well maybe not the homeschoolers backs :0

July 29, 2009

Book Lists and Library Fees

Yesterday I wrote a $30 check to my local library for overdue fees. Since the fees are either .10 or .30 cents a day you can realize how many books we had out that we kept too long. I used to begrudge the fee and I will concede off the bat it would be better if I did not return the books late and was able to keep my library use free but in the end I am willing to joyfully pay my late fees because the library provides such a wonderful service to my family and our community at large. There have been times as a family we have had upwards of 100 books out at a time, we typically have about 30-40 out at a time. Our 10 year old daughter represents half of that total alone before the rest of us start, we had to impose a you can check out what you can carry in your arms no bag rule only to watch her still stack 17 books high and walk out the door!

Who am I to argue with a love of books and I am just so thankful the library provides me with a nearly endless supply of them for all the voracious readers in our household. I have had questions if I will be publishing my book lists and the answer is yes - now I only do them once a year, I used to do them monthly but it became too time consuming and I found a software program that keeps track of everything for me so I don't have as much work anymore. So yes the book lists for this past year 4th, 2nd and K will be forthcoming sometime in the next few weeks. Better get them up before I start next years lists right?

July 27, 2009

Phases of Life

Blogging had dropped lower on my priorities list in the past year or so but I realize how much I have missed it. I am hopeful I can now return to regular posts and keeping track of our homeschool adventures here.

Phases of life is an important thing for each of us to keep in mind and to be responsive to. As parents and educators we need to be flexible to make the needed changes to our schedules, habits and extras in order to fit in all the essentials of our lives at any given time.

When I reflect back on the year at times I wonder why this was the thing I had to let go of and I feel like there will be a void in our family and educational history because I took this year off more or less from blogging. I am hopeful that now this year as my kids head into 5th, 3rd and 1st grade I can resume. Looking back it is amazing to me that I started this blog before my oldest was in Kindergarten, now she is heading into 5th grade and my youngest who was not even born yet is now going into 1st grade!

I have used this blog through the year to keep track of some of our favorite lessons, books, and other fun ideas. We have revisited some of them and for that I am thankful I wrote them down. It has also been a family history of sorts and I hope one day my kids can look back on it and see glimpses of our lives during this time. Others have also found usefulness out of my blog which I sometimes find amazing.

To those who have been reading along for a long time, Thanks and I am back. To those new or casual readers welcome and it is nice to have you along. To my family and friends who are in no doubt frustrated with my lack of communication here in recent days hopefully you will still read on.

Here you find the adventures of one homeschool family in the middle of the midwest doing our best and learning along the way.