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Genealogy Magazines - Digital Versions Still Have Some Work To Do!

It has taken me awhile to commit to the digital age particularly when it comes to my books and magazines. As an avid reader and writer, I love the idea of a book in my hand. I look forward to opening up a shiny new magazine for the first time with pristine glossy pages. Therefore, when downloading magazines, newspapers and books started to take shape....well, I was reluctant. I really felt I would miss the feel of a book or magazine, and I certainly wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy reading something so lengthy on a computer screen. In the past, I have downloaded e-books and newsletters, but several months back I downloaded my first full-length book. I am now hooked. So recently, I decided to focus on changing some of my magazine choices to digital format.

I live in a smaller community, where most of my favourite genealogy magazines are not readily available. This problem could easily be solved with a subscription, however, like I said I have several favourites, and I can’t afford all of them every month. I like to head to my local bookstore( which is not local, 50 km away) and look through the copies and decide which one this month peeks my interest and maybe addresses my genealogy needs, either in an article offering me some new possible leads, tweaks my genealogy knowledge or just plain entertains me.

Then, there is the problem with the growing stack of genealogy magazines. I cannot bear to part with them, yet I know I can’t continue to acquire them at this rate. I began to see the practicality of online magazines. I quickly realized my choices were limited, but I was happy to find two of my favourites.

Internet Genealogy – I like this magazine because its primary focus is researching your family roots online. This magazine is published six times a year, by Moorshead Magazines, and for me to pick up this magazine at my local bookstore will cost me $6.95 Canadian, to subscribe for a year is $28.00. However, the online edition is $15.00 for a year (six issues) and comes to me in a downloadable PDF format.

By choosing the online option, my cost is nearly cut in half, (perhaps affording me the luxury of downloading several favourites a month), I have saved a few trees, and I have but a halt to the magazine pile. Other magazines in the Moorshead line-up include Discovering Family History, Family Chronicle and History Magazine; however, they are not available in digital format as of yet.

Upon subscribing to this online magazine, I was informed it would take 3-6 weeks to process my order. Huh! I did promptly receive an email from Moorshead notifying me of my subscription, once again, the message in the email indicated it will begin with the next issue and will take 3-6 weeks to process.

There seemed to be a website problem when entering in my full credit card number, and within an hour, I received a second email informing me to call. I explained to Jennifer at Moorshead, the website would not allow me to enter the full 16 digits and she assured me she would have the webmaster look into it. Within an hour, a final email arrived providing me with a link, a username and a password. I quickly was able to download the February/March issue of Internet Genealogy and I was happy.

Apparently, Internet Genealogy has a few kinks to work out, and the 3-6 week wait applies only to print formatted subscriptions. However, I was pleased with the result, it is easily readable and to my surprise, I was just as excited and satisfied opening up and flipping the pages of my digital version as the printed format.

Next.... I went to my other favourite magazine to see what they had to offer.

Family Tree Magazine – This magazine also offers online resources, genealogy resources and genealogy learning all available in a downloadable format. The online version is only available by single copies at $5.99 each. I saw the March issue available but imagine my surprise to discover that I could only order the current issue in a print format, not yet available in digital format.....very disappointing. However, they offered all past issues in digital format. It would appear at this time Family Tree does not provide a current issue for download.

Next, I went to Amazon and Sony Reader to see if these two magazines were available in a download format but with no luck. After trying many search possibilities, no genealogy magazines were available at either website. To the credit of genealogy magazines, they are not alone, as the number of magazines available on Kindle is 39, very small relative to the number of magazines on the rack at any given Chapters. So why are magazines not jumping into digital downloads?

I can go to Amazon or Sony Reader and download a New York Times best seller in a matter of minutes. With music, books, and newspapers all converting to digital downloads why do magazines seem to be the last one to the party? Perhaps there are still plenty of individuals like myself, who are slow to responding to the online book and magazine trend and therefore the industry is merely adapting at our rate of change?

I think what the magazine industry needs to keep in mind, is the numerous online e-books and newsletters, some free and some paid for subscriptions that can be accessed immediately online, and I am certain others, like myself have been and will continue to look to these online sources as an immediate budget friendly alternative source of information. So I remain a little bit at a loss as to why there is so little to choose from when it comes to a digital download of the most recent issue of my favourite genealogy magazines.

As much as I would like to congratulate the genealogy magazine industry for going digital, there is still some work to be done to offer the consumer choice, along with current material and a process that is quick and easy.