(+) Genealogy Books on CD

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

books-on-cdI 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, 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 it since.

The new book that I purchased this week 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 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 can even 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 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 it only contains the names of the people listed. 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!

Can you see why I am enthused about books on CD-ROM disks? They are cheaper, require less space, and are easier use. I can find information in the CD 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!

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