One of the easiest ways to add old genealogy books to your personal library is to download them from Google Books, Archive.org, or any of the other electronic repositories of old genealogy books. Then save them onto your computer's hard drive. The process is simple and the books are available free of charge. Best of all, you don't have to purchase bookcases or build an addition onto your house just for books.
For instance, when I started researching my family tree more than thirty years ago, I purchased a reprint of a genealogy book first published in 1920: The Harmon Genealogy, comprising all branches in New England written by Artemas C. Harmon. The book mentions my great-grandmother, Lucy Harmon, and documents her Harmon ancestry back to 1667. It is a wonderful resource, and I have referred to this book often over the years.
I paid more than $100 for this reprinted book many years ago. Today, the same book is available online. The cost is ZERO. I can download the entire book to my hard drive or to a jump drive or save it to an online storage service. I can print one page, multiple pages, or even the entire book. Even better, I can electronically search the entire book within seconds for any word or phrase. Not only can I search for names, but I can also search for towns, dates, occupations, or any other words of interest. Try doing that with a printed book!
If you have sufficient room, you can save books onto your computer's hard drive. Then again, you may prefer to save genealogy books onto an external hard drive, onto CD-ROM disks, in flash drives, in the cloud, or anyplace else that is easy and convenient. You can do whatever you want, although I will NEVER print an entire book. I don't have that much storage space available!
I had a few books already saved on my computer but in the past few days I have decided to increase my collection significantly. I have now downloaded and saved more than 100 old genealogy and history books to my hard drive. You can easily do the same.
First, search for the book(s) you want. Search for surnames, county histories, military units, or anything else you can think of. I'd suggest first searching by using Google.com's search engine. If that doesn't quickly find any books of interest, visit the individual online electronic libraries at Archive.org, Google Books, the Allen County (Indiana) Public Library (those books are also available at Archive.org), Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library, Family History Library, Houston Public Library’s Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, the Mid-Continent Public Library’s Midwest Genealogy Center, and others.
Another great place to search for ebooks is at Mollie Lynch's "Genealogy Book Links" at http://genealogybooklinks.com/. Her list includes many smaller digital collections that you otherwise might never think of.
Use the search box at each site. If unsuccessful, using the Advanced Search available on many sites will usually result in "hits" that are closer to your exact area(s) of interest. Once a book of interest is found, you can find a download link. Some sites, such as Archive.org, may offer downloads in multiple formats. If unsure which format to use, select PDF. If you have an ebook reader (Kindle, Nook, iPad, Android), you might prefer a different format.
Once downloaded, place the book in whatever location you prefer. I normally place my genealogy ebooks in /Dropbox/genealogy/ebooks/ but you might prefer some other location.
One caveat: some of the online sites provide PDF files that can be searched for any word or phrase even after being stored on your own hard drive. Other online sites may not provide PDF files with search capabilities. I usually start at http://www.Archive.org simply because the books I find there usually can be searched for words or phrases even when stored on my own disk drive. Books downloaded in PDF format from Google Books normally are not searchable. Other online ebook sites vary widely. I suggest FIRST searching for books on Archive.org but, if not found there, expand your search. A non-searchable book is still better than no book at all.Of course, it might seem silly to download books onto your own hard drive when the same books are also always available online in any of the digital libraries. The argument might be, "Why duplicate efforts when you can download the book at any time in the future, whenever you want?" Indeed, there is some truth to that argument. However, I have two answers:
1. Things change frequently on the Internet. Just because it is available today doesn't mean it will still be available in the future when I have a need.All in all, building a library of old books is now much easier and far cheaper than ever before. OK, now go build your personal library!
2. I find it faster and easier to search ebooks stored on my computer's own hard drive than to download books over an Internet connection. That is especially true when using a laptop computer in the third sub-basement of the archives at some government building where a wi-fi Internet connection is not available. I like the security of having my own copy available whenever I want it. Of course, the online site makes for a great backup copy!
By the way, if you are interested in the book I mentioned earlier, The Harmon Genealogy, comprising all branches in New England, go to http://archive.org/details/harmongenealogyc00harm. Caution: This book is great; but, like most genealogy books, does contain a few errors. Author Artemas C. Harmon did a very good job of research, but his work was not perfect.