Thursday, 6 January 2011

Ten reasons to switch to genealogy ePublications

The 20th century is history. The first decade of the 21st is history. Is your FHS stuck in a backwater lamenting that the tried and true doesn't seem to be succeeding like it did? More like the tired and troubled!

I just read in Teleread that e-book versions of the top six titles on USA Today’s bestseller list are outselling the print versions. The world is changing.

I don't know of any genealogy society offering an eBook version of their periodicals and other publications. That would be where the forefront is today. You don't expect all-volunteer societies, especially those largely catering to seniors, to be on the technological forefront.

Progressive societies are switching to online publications, usually pdf versions. Why?

1. Avoiding escalating printing and distribution costs.
When did you last hear of mailing costs going down? In Canada the domestic basic letter rate increases on 17 January by 2 cents, from 57 cents to 59 cents. Plus taxes. Hold the line on fees.

2. Save labour in mailing.
Someone or group in your society has to sort, envelope, address and take your society publications to the post office. Or you pay for the service.

3. Save trees.
Please read on screen where you can. Even if you do want a hard copy to read you probably don't want the complete publication to there's a net savings in trees. That's also where easier-on-the-eye eReaders will come in.

4. No piles of old issues cluttering up the house.
You read an article, like it and decide you want to keep it. You put read, and unread, magazines on a pile. Pretty soon you've got a clutter. Better to avoid those publications coming into the house in the first place; you don't want the magazine, just the information. Let the Society store them for you online for instant access.

5. Electronically searchable back issues.
Instead of scanning numerous back issues trying to find the item you want let an Internet search facility do it for you. You already do that with genealogy databases rather than searching frame by frame through a microfilm You should be able to do the same thing with publications, and do better things with your time

6. Colour
Enhanced visual variety of publications with colour in an online version at no extra cost.

7. Instant delivery
In December I received the September issue of the Society of Genealogists Genealogist's Magazine into my letterbox. A couple of weeks later I accessed an online version of the December issue. The news was news.

8. Correction capability
Did your editor ever make a mistake and print something inaccurate, then have to print a correction in a subsequent issue. With online publication you can make the correction in the original, with a note to that effect if appropriate.

9. Access anywhere
Are you researching away from home and would like to refer to an article. If you can't get access will it mean a return trip costing time and money, and spewing more greenhouse gases. With widespread Internet wireless access anywhere availability is becoming more viable.

10. Lend with automatic return
This is on the horizon, implemented but too expensive for FHSs yet. You should be able to lend your electronic versions in the same way you can a paper version. Public libraries do that now for their eBooks, it can only be read before the expiry date. Amazon recently introduced this for Kindle purchases. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to borrow an eBook from your genealogy society library, or be able to loan your genealogy ePublication to a colleague with the assurance it will be returned by a fixed date?

With the baby boom generation now reaching 65, and mostly fully computer literate, is your genealogical or family history society offering services to meet their needs and expectations?

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