Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Yesterday’s Classics (the Whole Ebook Shebang!), a review

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We are a family of bibliophiles. Chances are that if one of my kiddos has disappeared when I’m getting ready to teach a lesson…I’ll find them curled up in a corner somewhere with a book.

And we have thousands of books. Don’t ask me how many boxes of books we packed to move from Missouri to Maryland…and then from one town to the next and then the next.

Much as I love books, moving them is a real pain. And so is storing them. Yes, I love the feel, the smell, the etc. of real live books. It did take awhile to make an ebook convert of me. But it’s happened.

Yesterday’s Classics is known for their quality reprints of classic books that were formerly out-of-print and have fallen into the public domain. But did you know that theyhaaren_greece now have their entire collection of 225 books available for purchase and download as ebooks? And they are formatted perfectly, with the original illustrations, and clickable tables of contents for either your Kindle or any device that will read EPUB files.

These are living books that you will find on the book lists of Ambleside Online, Old Fashioned Education, Mater Amabilis and others. You can see a complete list of the books included in the collection here. Books that are in the public domain, true, and many of which you can download for free online, that’s also true, but I’ll tell you something…I’m genuinely impressed with this collection.

You know me, I love free. I’m a cheapskate. I hate to pay for anything I can find for free. But it takes time to find free stuff. Real time I could spend actually planning how I’ll be using the books, and actually reading the books to my kids.

And sometimes free is, well, not so great. Many of the free books I’ve found online for my Kindle have problems. You see, freebies on the web tend to come from scans that use OCR software to convert the scans to text. And a lot of times there are glitches in the software or the scans are not clear enough for the software to convert it…and you end up with gobblygook in the middle of the page. Whole sections that are nonsense characters. You also end up with page headings in the middle of the page because the pages haven’t been actually reformatted to line up right on your device. And a worthless table of contents that has page numbers that don’t apply to electronic format, either.

In other words, sometimes free isn’t all that.

And there are public domain books that simply aren’t available for free download. You can’t get them at all except as a reprint or to read online…while it might seem appealing at first to read something off your computer rather than pay a buck or so for it…my eyes and body much prefer the easy book-like access of my e-reader.

pratt_ahs1A while back we started using some sources listed on Old Fashioned Education to supplement our history studies: American History Stories by Mara Platt, The Awakening of Europe by M.B. Synge, The Discovery of New Worlds…but I couldn’t find many of these books except as online reading or as audiobooks. We were enjoying the books, but going bug-eyed from trying to read them off the desktop. And the kiddos were fighting over the desk chair when it came time to listen to an audiobook (my cd player doesn’t do mp3s, I know, I live in the dark ages). It was really not working for us and I was ready to just quit and do something else.

Then Yesterday’s Classics came along and we were finally able to read these great books in a comfy spot. I’m looking forward to using more of these books in the coming years…and I won’tgould_greeks have to hunt for them, they are all right here on my Kindle.

I love the clickable tables of contents, the clean format, the clear pictures and the lack of errors. My kiddos looked over my shoulder and said, “Hey, there’s pictures!” Many of the free versions I’ve gotten in the past simply lack pictures at all…or the pictures are somehow wonky. Not with Yesterday’s Classics.

Now, keep in mind that these books are a century old. A lot has happened in the past century. Pluto was discovered and declared a planet. Then demoted to a dwarf planet, whatever that means. Just as some of the “facts” that I learned in school are no longer valid, so are some of the bits of info presented as “facts” in these books.

I don’t have a problem with that, really, as I welcome the opportunity to talk things over with my kiddos and to help them realize that just because you read it in a book, doesn’t mean it’s true. Lately, I’ve had a great deal of difficulty finding any non-fiction book without some problems in this area, anyway. History really isn’t a static collection of facts to be memorized and pondered, our understanding of it is changing all the time.

andrews_motherMy latest beef is the prevalence of the idea (in modern history books) that people in the middle ages all thought the world was flat and that Columbus was going to sail right off the edge of it (that’s simply not true, but they did know that his calculations were wrong and that he’d likely starve before he got to India, since nobody knew the Americas were here…except the first Americans, of course…check out Inventing the Flat Earth from your local library, it’s fascinating)---ironically you’ll find those same fallacies in these Yesterday’s Classics books, so maybe times haven’t changed that much after all.

My point is that, while some of the information may be out-dated, an up-to-date book is not necessarily more reliable, so I’m happy to work with these.

Yesterday’s Classics ebooks are DRM-free! That means you can put them on as many devices as you want. Available in either Kindle or EPUB format, Yesterday’s Classics can be read on your Kindle, Nook, Sony, iPad, iPod Touch, Smartphone…you name it. The books can also be read on your computer with the correct app installed. Need it in both Kindle and ePub? Order one and then contact them asking for the other format, they’ll be happy to send it to you. How’s that for having your cake and eating it too?

Your download of the complete Yesterday’s Classics collection will include instructions on printing the books and email support in case you run into any technical troubles. And there is a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee. If you are not satisfied, just email them for a complete refund. I love it when a company stands behind their product.

What’s the bottom line?

The Yesterday’s Classics complete ebook collection (225 books) is available for the special price of $99.95, but this sale won't last! perkins_dutch

Head over there and download a free copy of The Dutch Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins in Kindle or EPUB format (or both) and see what you think.

Books can also be purchased individually for Kindle or as EPUBs.

And if you absolutely must have the physical book in hand…all of Yesterday’s Classics’ books are available in paperback editions.

You can read reviews of this and other products by other homeschoolers at the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclosure: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free copy of the product for review. I received no other compensation. This post reflects my personal opinion and I was in no way obligated to write a positive review.

4 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your review! I am also very grateful to have been chosen to review this wonderful collection.....I am now following your blog. I hope you'll come follow mine, too.

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  2. I had forgotten the money back guarantee or that you can use them on as many devices as you please - great points! Great review!

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  3. A very thoughtful review; I enjoyed reading it.

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  4. Great review :) I'd say this has been one of my favorite review items :) I mentioned that the books, once downloaded, can be moved from device to device but forgot to mention they are DRM free! That is a biggie.
    I love my Kindle ...ahhh the books I've been able to read with it :)

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