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Tuesday's Tip - Making the Switch to Digital and Audio Books

Having recently obtained my first Kindle, I now get it. I get what all the fuss is about. I will be honest when the Kindle first arrived on the scene I was reluctant. I am a romantic, and that means I love the feel of a book in my hands. I didn’t think I could appreciate a book without holding those written words on a printed page. As a writer, I felt I owed a sense of duty to the author to purchase a paper book. As someone who wishes to some day hold a copy of her own published book in her hands, I was adamant about keeping the dream alive.

However, that handy little device that offered me the option of carrying around all my books in such a small, portable and convenient way intrigued me. I am also practical, and, and the cost of a book on Kindle can be half the cost, sometimes less. Once I started downloading books to my Kindle, it became clear I could get just as romantic about this Kindle...and it just makes sense.

I’m impressed by what is available on Kindle, everything from New York Times bestsellers to newspapers. At the same time, I am equally dismayed by what is not available. There seems to be some problems with copyright laws, and if you live in Canada, you are prohibited from certain book titles. I am saddened that genealogy magazines are not available in Kindle format, however, you can read your favourite genealogy blog on your Kindle (and yet I can read them for free, so I’m not sure that makes much sense to me).

Some of the best selling popular genealogy books are available on Kindle, while some others are not. Are others just late to the party like myself, or is there good reason for the hold out. For instance, none of Elizabeth Shown Mills books are available through Kindle with the exception of her historical novel Isle of Canes. In addition, not to call her out, but as someone I highly respect I have to ask why? Does she know something we don’t?(She generally does).

I suspect another growing trend will be audible books. Audible books although they been around for a while are still not mainstream. I love the idea of listening to books. Downloading a book to my MP3 player and listening to a book while I go for my daily walk, push the vacuum around the house or scoot around town doing errands. For those who cannot read in the car, this is a great alternative.

Readers can shop, purchase, and download audio content from Once downloaded to their PCs and Macs, they can then transfer the audio content to MP3 players, PDAs or smart mobile devices. Readers can also burn the content to audio CDs.

Your Kindle is equipped with a text to speech capability, if a book comes with this function, you already have the capability of listening to your books. I have yet to download a book with this function. However, my Kindle also has MP3 capabilities, so I can download an audio book to my PC and then load it to my Kindle or MP3.

You can sign up with an Amazon company. You can choose from a variety of plans. Your membership benefits include up to 75% off CD audio books, access to member only sales and promos, free daily audio subscriptions of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. With your monthly subscription price of $14.95, you receive two credits. Members receive credits each month that can then be used as currency; one credit equals one audio program. Monthly plans allow you to carry over up to 6 rollover credits where annual plans allow up to 12 rollover credits. You can cancel your subscription at any time. Currently you can subscribe and get your first month free, allowing you two free audio downloads.

An book seems like an affordable and portable way of listening to books. I will warn you Audible books do not have a vast library, however it is improving and in regards to genealogy books, it is non-existent. Maybe an opportunity for the genealogy industry. Perhaps Ms. Mills will consider converting her books in audio format. I would like having  my own genealogy expert whispering sweet citations into my ear.

If you haven’t been able to make the jump to Kindle, today's tip is to seriously consider it, and by all means check out if for nothing more than then two free audio books. I know as family historians we can get caught up in the past, but at the same time, we cannot be afraid to stay current.