Saturday, March 03, 2007


I find myself suddenly conflicted.

I am a bookseller by occupation and a book reader my whole life
and as such I’ve always held a negative viewpoint on books online
and hand-held ebook readers. I've always maintained, and still do,
that there is nothing like the feel of a real book in your hands or
of entering a library or bookstore and browsing the shelves. And
even though the price of paper has caused the books’ prices to
rise as well, it is still possible for nearly every citizen of the United
States to easily and cheaply obtain books.

But with my interest in genealogy has come an appreciation for
things like Google’s Book Search. Earlier tonight I was reading Tim
Abbott’s “Walking the Berkshires” post about the Witch Hysteria in
Andover. Tim's a descendant of Elizabeth Phelps Ballard and I've
Phelps ancestors as well. I Googled my Phelps ancestor who lived
in the same time and found Genealogical and Personal Memoirs
Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts
William Richard Cutter on Google Book Search.

The book has been scanned and from it I was able to determine my
ancestor Samuel Phelps was the brother of Elizabeth and learned
some new things I hadn’t known about him. This is a book I might
not have been able earily find in the local libraries or
even order cheaply at the bookstore.

I still hold a doubtful view on the so called “ebook revolution” but
I find myself with an appreciation of how useful a thing it is to have
old books such as Cutter available on the Google Book Search. I
know I’ll use it again.

I’ll just have to let my bookseller half deal with the guilt!

No comments: