An electronic book (variously: e-book, eBook, digital book, or e-edition) is a book-length publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, readable on computers or other electronic devices. (Wikipedia). It is not really a “book,” but rather a piece of software that you lease (not own). It is usually subject to Digital Rights Management, which further restricts your usage, i.e. you can’t sell or give it to someone else.

You need some sort of electronic device to “read” your book. These devices are usually tied to the company providing the e-book. The most common are Nook from Barnes and Noble and Kindle from Amazon. In addition to Nook and Kindle dedicated readers, there are also apps that can be used on a personal computer or mobile device. There is also specialized software such as Overdrive and Adobe Digital Editions that is used by libraries to lend books.


There are thousands of older family histories and genealogical books that are available, usually free, in PDF format, and which can be read by any of the systems mentioned above.

Family History Books ( is a collection of more than 80,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications. The Family History Library has partnered with Allen County Public Library, Mid-Continent Public Library, and others to provide PDF copies of these books. Go to then click on “Search” and then click on “Books.”

HeritageQuest Online (from ProQuest) is available online, but you must have a library card. They have several collections such as PERSI and Census Records. The Genealogy and local history books section has more than 7 million digitized page images from over 28,000 family histories, local histories, and other books. You can access it through the Greene County Library using your library card at , then click on “HeritageQuest Online.”

Google Books is a service from Google Inc. that searches the full text of books and magazines that Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition, and stored in its digital database. (Wikipedia). You can download older books that are not under copyright; others may be available for purchase in print editions. Go to

Internet Archive is a non-profit organization that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.

In addition to these generally free e-books, you can also purchase newer books and reference materials, such as Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources. These may be available for your Nook at or Kindle at

Remember, you do not need a Kindle or Nook to read the books you purchase. You can get a free App for your IPad, PC, and other mobile devices.

As mentioned above, many of the older free books can be downloaded to your computer in the PDF format. You will need a reader such as Adobe Reader available at Be sure to uncheck the optional free offer for McAfee.