Monday, 8 November 2010

Beware Genealogy e-books

An Amazon Kindle was the latest gadget to arrive at home a little over a week ago. I was getting fed up with throwing out so much of the newspaper delivered to my door that didn't interest me. The online format hasn't won me over yet but it's early days.

Although I didn't buy the Kindle to read books I was curious to see what was available on genealogy. Searching the word genealogy found 502 titles ranked by "relevance".

The first is "How To Do Everything Genealogy" by George G Morgan. It gets a five star rating from six of the seven customer reviewers, the other awarding four stars. By sales rank it is 108,064th in the Kindle store. The price of $14.84 is a 41% discount off the list price. There is a warning that the download time is greater than usual due to its large size.

Second on the list is "Family Tree Cemetery Research on the Internet (A Genealogy Guide)" by Nancy Hendrickson. The publication date is given as June 23, 2010 and the publisher Green Pony Press Inc. It has no customer reviews, a sales ranking of 57,240 and sells for $2.99.

Third on the list "The Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family History" is by Pink Panda Publishing. The publishing date is October 15, 2009 and sales rank 48,559th in the Kindle store. The price is $0.99 and it had no customer reviews.

Going further down the list there are publications with four or more stars ratings by Barbara Renick, Christine Rose, Carter Fleming, Jack Simpson, Kimberly Powell, Carolyn B Leonard. A typical price is $9.99 and they mostly have sales rankings in the Kindle store over 100,000.

There are also many publications with no star ratings and only a corporate author including e-Book,  e-Business Master, Little White e-Book, New Century Books, and eBook Media Ventures. The most popular price was from $0.99 up to $2.99 and with Kindle store sales rankings above 50,000 except for some very new publications.

For most of the individual named authors, many well-known by reputation, Google searches showed credible involvement in the genealogical community. What about the corporate authors?

I Googled for "Pink Panda Publishing" and found nothing on the company, although many "how to" type ebooks. At least one of the companies has a checkered history.

This set me to recalling a blog posting I'd seen earlier, about searches on the Barnes and Noble's site showing "32-page compilations of Wikipedia articles about John Scalzi’s work" listed ahead of his actual books.

I didn't actually check out the full text of any of those corporate author publications. Downloading the preview for one crashed my Kindle and when I did get it working again showed only a preface.

The bottom line is an old story, "you get what you pay for." The sales rankings are practically worthless being dominated more by price than quality.


Susan Petersen said...

Very good post! A lot of people are self-publishing what I would call e-bookLETS rather than e-books. As you point out - many in the under $7 price range. As with any product, the consumer must do her/his research - just as you have done with your post. Nice job.

SweetRetreat said...

How do you like the Kindle? Does it work well in Canada? I have been toying with getting an Ereader but not sure which one.