In this second part of this series, I am going to delve into the sale of digital books that are in the public domain on the Internet. There are thousands of these books available on Ebay and other sites.
Some of these books are very old and rare in print. It would be nearly impossible to acquire these books on any reasonable budget. Digitization has allowed a level playing field in regard to these works.
There is a questionable side to this issue, however. In searching Ebay for genealogical books, I came across dozens of ebooks that are freely available for download on Google Books. I will not be providing links to the Ebay items, as I think they are a rip-off, but here are some examples.
- Irish Pedigrees: Or the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation – Vol 1&2 – $12.49 on Ebay or Free on Google Books
- A History of Swan’s Island, Maine – $9.99 on Ebay, or free on Google Books
- The Colonial History of Hartford – $5.99 on Ebay, or Free on Google Books
Ok, the list could go on for a very long time, but let’s just leave it here with the gentle reminder to check Google Books before buying an ebook online if the book is in the public domain. People are obviously making a killing by scanning books in the public domain and selling the digital versions. Most of these books are available for download for free on Google Books. Don’t be duped!
This is not to say that there are no good genealogical books for sale on Ebay or elsewhere. Recently published books, or those that are very rare might be a good buy for the genealogist with a need for them. Of course there is some benefit to actually being able to read a paper version of a book, so though the book might be free online, reading it from a physical book might be better for some people. The bottom line, however, as with all things genealogy, is “Check every available resource”.
Other articles in this series on Buying your family history:
Family Bibles on Ebay