The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Many local genealogy societies as well as private individuals have created collections of information of interest to genealogists. These might include images of local census records, transcribed local tax records, extracts of land deed transactions, lists of veterans, scanned images of old and out of copyright genealogy and local history books, or even videos.
Traditionally, these collections have been printed in booklets and sold at modest prices to any genealogists interested in the data. With ever-increasing expenses of printing and postage, along with the inability to publicize these efforts, printing and selling these booklets continues to be more difficult every year. Luckily, publishing on the web reduces the expenses significantly. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo also help a great deal with the publicity. Even better, the buyer of the information can obtain electronic copies within seconds after payment, all without society volunteers or others having to stuff envelopes, calculate the postage, and take the packaged booklets to the post office. If it can be digitized, it can be sold online.
Lower expenses, less effort, instant gratification for the purchaser, and less labor involved sounds like a win-win-win-win process! There is but one question: "How do we do all that?"
Many genealogy societies and other organizations would like to create web sites that have some pages visible to the general public and other pages that are visible only to members or to paid subscribers. In fact, such a web site can be a very attractive money-maker for individuals or societies that have published books or lists of extracted records.
All you need for granting and restricting access as you wish is one software package installed on a suitable web server. You do not need to leave a computer running in your home. A web server in some remote data center controls everything.
In fact, you can see one example of this right now at this newsletter’s web site at http://www.eogn.com. This web site has many pages that are visible to everyone on the World Wide Web, but it also has some restricted pages that are accessible only to paid Plus Edition subscribers. The same web site safely and securely accepts credit card payments, using industrial-strength encryption, and then gives instant access to Plus Edition pages to those new subscribers as well as to long-term subscribers.
Building your own web site with e-commerce software, online catalogs, instant downloads, and highly secure credit card processing capabilities can be difficult. Many commercial companies have spent thousands of dollars to build online e-commerce sites. However, several companies now offer "canned packages" that allow most any society or individual with moderate computer skills to create such a site in a day or two. In this article I will describe two such products that I know will work.
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