In case you didn’t know, I love books. I have so many bookshelves all over my house, in practically every room, filled with wonderful books. I have worked hard as a homeschool momma to instill a love for books in Ben, too. And it has worked. He reads all the time.
A few years ago, when I first started noticing eBook bundle sales, I didn’t pay much attention. Who would want to buy eBooks? I needed to feel the soft cover of a paperback in my hand to find reading truly satisfying. But then the Kindle was released and I began gathering free books. I even compiled wonderful lists of Kindle books here on the blog — like my 175 Free Kindle Books for Kids and 170+ Classic Books for Kindle for Your Homeschool.
Soon eBooks found a place in my heart. While I still love the feel of a paperback book in my hand, I am a true digital product convert for the following reasons.
Soon I discovered that not only could I find great deals on Kindle books, but up sprouted many opportunities to purchase homeschool curriculum in digital format at lower costs than the printed format. And then soon I discovered Homeschool digital book bundle sales.
Last year, I purchased several bundles of books in a homeschool eBook bundle sale. It was incredible how many really high quality products I found, and almost all of the bundles were 80% off or more. Not just eBooks either — there was curriculum in those bundles. In fact, most of it was curriculum. From just one bundle I ende up with products from some of my favorite companies — A Child’s Geogaphy, Math Mammoth, several sets of notebooking pages from NotebookingPages.com, Picture Smart Bible, Creative Freewriting Adventure, and Learning Language Arts Through Literature. I think I paid maybe $39 for the entire bundle, a savings of over 84%. Crazy, huh?
Were there books in that bundle that did not interest me? Yes. But because there were so many that did interest me, the savings in purchasing the bundle was still huge. You will find that many times, just one product can be worth the price of an entire bundle.
Portability and Convenience
As you may have noticed, we travel a lot. In the past, we would pack a suitcase or huge box with all of our homeschool curriculum, books to read, and school supplies. Now we pack a small bag with a few supplies and our iPads. I also love that I can leave my Kindle in my purse and have a plethora of reading options at my finger tips whenever I have the opportunity to read.
Our house is filled to the brim with books, curriculum, and supplies. I simply would not have bought many of the books and curriculum I now have in digital format because we just don’t have the room for many more books. Storing 1000+ eBooks in the Cloud, on my Kindle, and in Dropbox is a dream for anyone who wishes to cut down on clutter.
So now that you hopefully see the benefits to purchasing a eBooks and digital curriculum, what now? Digital bundle sales in particular may mean that you suddenly have 25-100 digital files to download and organize. You may have a few questions:
How do I organize them all?
What do I do with the books I don’t need?
How do I know when to print them?
Do I print them myself or take them somewhere?
Let me take a few minutes to share how I go about organizing and utilizing the digital books I purchase in bundle sales.
When I purchase an eBook or digital bundle, I try to go ahead and download them all immediately. Some digital bundle sales will only give you a certain amount of time to download all of the files. It’s easy to get busy with other things and forget, so I try to set aside time right away to download them immediately. I begin by opening a Folder on my computer to hold all of them, until I can spend the time it takes to organize them. If it is a general digital bundle sale with many categories of books all sold together, I just name that folder the name of the bundle sale and worry about separating them out later.
With some homeschool bundle sales, I know the bundles will already be sold in grade or subject-specific bundles, so I will go ahead and create individual folders for the bundles I know I will purchase — for example: Middle School, High School, Special Needs, etc.
Once the files are all downloaded onto my hard drive, I can go about the task of organizing them. The first thing I want to do is eliminate the eBooks I know I will never use. For example, I’m probably not going to use a devotional for elementary-aged girls, or a homeschool book on dyslexia. Since digital books are generally protected by copyright in a way that prohibits sharing them with others, there’s no reason for me to keep those files I know will not serve me. So I go ahead and delete them right away. Remember, it’s likely that I have purchased the bundle for a select few eBooks because the value of the bundle was so great compared to the price I paid. It’s really okay to go ahead and delete the ones you will never use. Decluttering the digital bookshelves can be just as important as decluttering the physical ones.
Next, I sort the eBooks by subject matter. On my hard drive, I already have a folder called “Homeschool” with sub-folders for different subjects. If I have purchased a homeschool bundle, then I will go ahead and move each file into the proper subject-related sub-folder. I move through each digital resource in the bundle, filing each one into the appropriate sub-folder as I go.
Printing or Dropbox?
Choosing which files to print is fairly simple. Because not every eBook in a bundle will be printed, I want to quickly make a decision about which ones will be and then get that chore finished right away. For homeschool-related books, I’m only going to print those that I will use within the next year, and then only those that are consumable. For example, any student book that requires Ben to write in it will get printed. I never print the teacher’s manuals or books that one of us will just read. Those will be immediately sent to my Dropbox so we will have access to them from our iPads.
Once I know which files will be printed, I decide whether I will print them myself or have them printed by a local office supply store. Generally, I make that decision based on how many pages the file contains. A small copywork eBook can be printed at home and then hole-punched to be placed in a pocket folder, or one a bit larger (under 100 pages) can be printed at home and comb-bound. I have my own comb-binding machine, purchased about 9 years ago. It was an initial investment, but has served me well over the years. The model I own is no longer available, but I have my eye on this one because it will bind up to 300 pages (mine will only bind 100 — thus my 100-page limit).
For a large file, like a full textbook or curriculum, I usually take it to Staples to have it printed and bound. Staples has a Teacher’s Reward program that offers discounts and rewards to homeschool moms, as do other office supply stores, making it affordable (and very cost-effective) to let them print and bind larger eBooks. Remember, I am only printing books that are consumable, not books that can easily be read on my computer or iPad.
Printed eBook Storage
Most of the time, when I print eBooks, they are either hole-punched and stored in a pocket folder, or comb-bound. Both methods lead to fairly flimsy books that don’t store well on a book shelf. My best tip for storing eBooks such as these is to use magazine storage boxes. These from IKEA are my favorite. I probably have 15 of them. I also use these for lapbooks, and of course, magazines. I love them because they are sturdy cardboard, white, and cheap at just over $1 each. You can write on them or let your children decorate them with markers and stickers. If you are particularly crafty, you will enjoy decorating them with scrapbook or contact paper. Mine are mostly just white, and I’m okay with that, too.
If you don’t have a comb-binder or magazine boxes, and don’t wish to invest in either, another option is to just 3-hole punch the eBook pages and store them in binders with dividers. With this method, you can store several books centered on the same topic in one binder and simply store them on a book shelf. Just remember to label your dividers with the title of the book, and your binder with the subject. I’ve also just placed each individual eBook in a manila folder and stored them in a hanging file box like this one. This was how I stored all of our FREE unit studies and lapbooks from Homeschool Share in the early days.
I hope you can now see the benefits to buying eBooks and digital curriculum. It does take a bit of organizational skill and follow-through to make it work to your advantage, but the savings can be so incredible. And for those of us who are used to being frugal homeschool moms, it’s really no different than the other ways in which we endeavor to save money (couponing, anyone?).
Are you ready to organize some eBooks now?