Jun 23, 2023

(+) Genealogy Books on CD or as Downloadable Files

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I have been reading an interesting book. In fact, it is a book about my family. The original book was published in 1901, so it has long been out of copyright. I have seen it offered for sale as a reprinted book for $150 to $250. In fact, I purchased a printed copy of the book about 25 years ago for $150, and it now sits in a box in my basement. I ran out of bookshelf space, and I don’t open this book all that often. Therefore, it was banned to the basement years ago and, admittedly, I haven’t opened the printed since.

The new book that I purchased a few weeks ago is exactly the same book. It has exactly the same words, exactly the same images, everything. Well, not quite everything: there are two major differences.

First, the new book is reprinted as an electronic PDF file. It was first saved on a CD-ROM disk. The disk takes up almost no space at all on the bookshelf and, even better, I can copy it to my computer’s hard drive or to a jump drive or to most any other place I wish. If it is copied to the computer’s hard drive, it essentially takes up no space at all. In fact, I now have multiple copies: one on the desktop computer, one on the laptop (great for when I am researching in a library or courthouse), one on the original CD-ROM disk, one on a jump drive, and one more copy that is kept online in the cloud in a password-protected online file storage service I use.

Second, the 999-page book printed in 1901 had no index! Can you imagine trying to find information about specific individuals in this book that contains information about 40,000 people? Someone else did create an index some years later, but iI haven’t yet found an electronic copy of that. In fact, I really don’t need it.

By using the tools built into Adobe Reader, I can now search this book looking for ANY word or phrase. The first thing I did was to search for a couple of small towns where my ancestors lived. Using Adobe Reader, this book on CD displayed every occurrence of those towns within seconds. I then searched for county names. Again, it found every county I am interested in within a very few seconds. Doing the same thing with the printed book would have required many hours, maybe days. 

Now here is the best part of all: whereas the printed book costs $150 to $250, depending upon the publisher, the CD-ROM version costs $6.99 and that includes shipping! Admittedly, I later found the same book as a downloadable file FREE OF CHARGE and I didn’t need to wait for delivery by the postman!

Can you see why I am enthused about books on CD-ROM disks or as downloadable files? They are cheaper, require less space, and are easier use. I can find information in the electroic version much more quickly than in the printed version. Even better, I can copy-and-paste text from the book directly into a genealogy program, an email message, a word processor, or most any other program. That’s much easier than photocopying pages out of a printed book and then re-typing them into a computer program!

Not all the PDF files allow for copying-and-pasting, but many do. Here is an example that I copied and pasted to this article from the book on my family name:

40. John Eastman-* (John^, John-, Roger’), born Dec. 27, 1701 ; married April i, 1727, Martha Fitts, born Jan. 18, 1 701-2, baptized March 29, 1702, daughter of Richard and Sarah (Thorn) Fitts, of Ipswich, and SaHsbury, Mass. Mr. Eastman lived in Salisbury, Mass.

My printed version of the book will remain in the basement while the electronic version now occupies a place of honor on my hard drives, on a flashdrive, and a copy is available in the cloud in a private area that I pay for.

So where do you find genealogy books on CD or as downloadable files? The answer is, “In many places.”

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