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    Publish Your Family History Book: Paper or eBook?

    Should you publish your family history as a print book or an ebook?

    The first place to look for an answer is your audience? How do they prefer to read books? Their preferences should guide your decision on the form your book should take.

    But they are not the only consideration. What are your goals for your family history? In most cases, preservation is a high priority. The Library of Congress says you should still consider paper the “archival medium.” Think about the rapid emergence and disappearance of storage technologies over the past twenty-five years: cassette tapes, 8-tracks, VHS, Betamax, various incarnations of floppy disks, CDs, flash drives, and cloud based storage. It is likely that ebooks will evolve into a variety of new formats that will require reformatting of books published today to assure that they will be read by these new devices. Dag Spicer, curator of the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley told the New York Times, “Some paper we have has lasted thousands of years. If Moses had gotten the Ten Commandments on a floppy disk, it would never have made it to today.”

    But if you have many potential readers who prefer ebooks, the convenience of being able to read your family history on their preferred device may be an important consideration. Remember that ebooks come in multiple formats depending upon the device on which they will be read. Kindles require a file in the mobi format. Nook and iPad use the open source epub format, but to be sold in the iStore, Apple requires the files to be uploaded from an apple device. Or you can simply create a PDF version of your book. Which version(s) is/are best for your audience?

    Many family historians facing both questions of preservation and ease of reader experience have decided that the best solution is to make their books available in both paper and ebook editions. If you choose that path, make sure to tell your book designer so that they can prepare files that will be easily adapted to both formats.

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