Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kindle for Genealogy

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite - Latest Generation

I love books. Do you know any genealogist who doesn't? As soon as introduced its Kindle, I knew this was a gadget that was made for me. But I waited. And the wait was well worth it - with the price drop to $139 for the WiFi model, it put the Kindle in a price range I was willing to pay.

Even if you don't own a Kindle reading device, there are many genealogy books and resources available for use on your computer.Many of these are Free. First of all, visit Amazon and download the free Kindle for PC app, or the Kindle for Mac app. Reading apps are also available for a variety of mobile devices.

The Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac apps will allow you to manage and read your e-books on your computer. Even though many genealogy e-books and blogs are available for purchase on Amazon and from other retailers, you can also download books in the public domain and manage them in this app. Even before my Kindle arrived, I had already started my collection of Kindle books and began reading some of them right on my PC. If you're not ready to purchase a Kindle, you can still get the benefit of free public domain books right on your computer.

Sources for free genealogy books

I discovered a county history book on Google books that I was interested in reading. It's a public domain book and there was a download link available. The 1,203 page book was available as an Adobe pdf file. I downloaded the book to my computer.

Next step: The Kindle can function as a mass storage device by connecting it to your computer via a USB port. You can view the files and transfer files between your computer and your Kindle just as you would with a flash drive. By doing a copy and paste, I was able to transfer the Adobe pdf file to my Kindle. The document displays exactly as any pdf file would on your computer. Yes, there are drawbacks. The document is not searchable. However, if you happen to have Adobe Professional 9.0, you could run an OCR scan on the document and perhaps at least some of the document could be searched.

Another source for free genealogy resources is the Internet Archive. I searched the terms "nebraska history" which resulted in several books and publications. Johnson's History of Nebraska is a book I'm familiar with, so I clicked on that. On the left side of the page are the download options: pdf, daisy, epub and Kindle as well as other types of downloads. Click on Kindle to download. This is saved to your computer as a MOBI file. Once downloaded, you can read the book in a reading app or transfer the document to your Kindle via the USB port option.

I will acknowledge that the lack of a search feature is a drawback, but if you want to read or skim this type of history book, it's easy to do either on your computer or your Kindle.

Genealogy resources for your Kindle

A visit to and searching for topics of interest to you will result in a variety of genealogy resources. If you want to find the free or inexpensive items, filter your search results to "price: lowest to highest."

For a relatively low price, you can purchase these books and read them on your computer (which I did while waiting for my Kindle to arrive) or have them available for reading on your Kindle.

On Amazon, you will also find many "how-to" genealogy books available. Many are the less expensive self published books, but you'll also find some like:

Who Do You Think You Are? by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

How to Do Everything Genealogy by George Morgan (which was one of the first two Kindle genealogy books I purchased)

I also want to give a plug to fellow geneablogger Dr. Bill Smith, whose novel, Back to the Homeplace, was the other initial purchase I made for my Kindle.

So how does this help me with my genealogy research?

I began this post by saying how much I love books. And one thing I find with genealogy research is that there never seems to be enough time in the day to read everything I want to read. With my Kindle, I can carry as many as 3,500 books in my handbag. Technically, the WiFi version is 7.5 inches x 4.8 inches and no thicker than a pencil. It's great to be able to carry this vast library with me anywhere. I seem to have a lot of dead time - 15 minutes here and there waiting for appointments. With my Kindle, I can stay on top of my reading by making use of that dead time.

You can highlight passages, make annotations, and with the "text to speech" feature, you can even have the Kindle read to you. You can also transfer photographs, audio files and audio books to your Kindle. You can even access the web with a WiFi connection, although I found this extremely slow and cumbersome.

The Kindle is certainly not as sexy as Apple's iPad, and the Kindle does not have color display. But for the price and as a reading device, it's hard to beat.

The older I get, the more I see the need to downsize and that includes my vast collection of thousands of books. You book collectors know how heavy those boxes of books are to move! With my Kindle, I can have my books with me wherever I go.

If you're a Kindle owner, please comment about how you use your Kindle or offer any other tips you have on using the Kindle for genealogy.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are my own. I did not receive any compensation for the products mentioned in this post. I personally purchased the Kindle and the books by Morgan and Smith. I do have an affiliate agreement with which means I may receive a referral commission for any purchases made at as a result of clicking through any of the links to from this post.


  1. Many genealogy society websites have their journals available in pdf format. I've recently started putting these on my Kindle. It's a great way to read those back issues that were published before I was a member of the society.

  2. Hmmm. I guess I am going to have to look into Kindle. Sigh.

  3. Great post! I'm a reader but haven't purchased a Kindle yet. I like how you married your two interests, genealogy and reading together with the ease of having an electronic gadget to maintain the library.

  4. I love my kindle! I have a number of genealogy books on it, as well as a few of my genealogy docs in pdf format. And although the browser is "experimental," I can do some limited internet surfing.

  5. Another great post about the Kindle. Thanks