Old books, new readers – Catholic Children’s E-Books: a new way to find old books

Old books, new readers – Catholic Children’s E-Books: a new way to find old books

Catholic Children’s E-Books: a new way to find old books 

Monica Pagano holds a tablet with a story about St. Therese that she is reading. Her father Paul is the founder of Catholic Children’s E-Books, a website where parents can find and purchase exclusively Catholic reading material for their pre-K to college-age children. See story under Latest News: “Catholic Children’s E-Books: a new way to find old books”

Monica Pagano holds a tablet with a story about St. Therese that she is reading. Her father Paul is the founder of Catholic Children’s E-Books, a website where parents can find and purchase exclusively Catholic reading material for their pre-K to college-age children.

As a young boy growing up in Jackson, N.J., and still today, Paul Pagano has had a fondness for the written word.

“I’ve always been a huge reader and book collector,” he says. “I treat them delicately.”

Raising four children, the oldest being 7, with his wife Anna (and with another child on the way), Pagano wants his children to have that same love of reading.

However, the 34 year-old Barnegat resident and parishioner at Mater Ecclesiae Church in Berlin also wants his kids to read “good children’s books” consistent with the teachings and values of the Catholic faith, that espouse “honor, nobility, truthfulness and chasteness,” he says.

“My wife and I both agreed, that as preteens and teens, we read a bunch of (morally and spiritually unacceptable) books, and we didn’t want that for our kids.”

As founder of Catholic Children’s E-Books, a website where parents can find and purchase exclusively Catholic reading material for their pre-K to college-age children, Pagano has created a way to share such books with his children and other’s children, in the form of saints’ biographies, fiction, grade school readers and poetry.

A few years ago, as homeschooling parents to their children through Seton Home Study School, Paul and Anna searched for acceptable books for children. Scouring websites for used booksellers, EBay, and Amazon, Pagano found books from the late 19th century to early 20th century, up to the 1960s, that he liked.

“I found a series of boys’ adventure books, each one written by one of five Jesuit priests; a series of graded readers, used in particular classrooms; and saint biographies.”

“They weren’t just preachy, and in-your-face Catholicism,” he says.

Acquiring them for his children, Pagano soon realized that “as our kids started enjoying these books, I wanted to share them” with other homeschooling families.

But, two things became clear to him.

“One, it was a serious effort to find and buy these books, as I had been looking daily,” he says, “and two, these books were rare.”

Pagano soon came up with a way to download these books onto a website, have visitors find them and purchase, and transfer them to their tablets or e-readers.

As Pagano’s website is a moneymaking venture, he has to check on the copyright status of each book before it makes its way onto his site.

In most cases, the books he offers were published before 1923, and thus are in the public domain, meaning that he can reproduce them as many times as he wants.

For books published between 1923-63, he has to receive written permission from the author or the holder of the copyright. This has included the Jesuit superior of a province that was the home of a now-deceased author.

The process from physical book to e-reader can take some time. He uses a “desk-lamp size” instrument to scan each page, and create a digital file. Next, he “cleans up” each reproduced page, formatting font, paragraphs and pictures. Finally, the book is downloaded onto the website, available for the Nook, Kindle, or any other tablet or e-reader.

“For a shorter book, such as a graded reader, the process can take about an hour” from page to website, he said. “For the novels, it can take six to eight hours.”

Each individual book is priced between $4-6. “The goal is to sell a lot of books, but not price-gouge people,” he says.

In some cases, he will bundle series of books together. As well, he posts “freebies,” no-cost chapters of books that people can download.

Each month, Pagano estimates that he adds six to eight books and he sends an e-newsletter to subscribers.

The site has options to search products by categories, age and gender.

Pagano has promoted his website at homeschooling conferences along the East Coast and at Mater Ecclesiae.

Days talking up the website with others, or downloading books, have mixed in with the other business he and Anna have taken part in for the past 10 years, as owners of a local Barkbusters, a behavioral dog-training franchise.

Pagano finds combining his faith and books a rewarding business. “Bringing the church and books together, those are my two great interests,” he says.

To visit Pagano’s site, go to www.CatholicChildrensEbooks.com, call 732-674-1390, or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/paganoebooks

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