Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Electronic Genealogy Magazine Publication

I received my invitation to download the April 2009 issue of The New England Historical and Genealogical Register yesterday, so I did, read it, printed off an article for one of my ancestral families, and saved it to my hard drive for future reference. When NEHGS offered an electronic copy in lieu of a printed copy, I jumped at it. NEHGS has not reduced the price of their membership, though.

I read yesterday that FORUM, the magazine of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, will be published only in electronic download format starting with the Summer 2009 issue.

My under-window bookcases groan under the weight of about 15 years of NEHGR and many other journals and magazines. My piles fall over sometimes. There is no more room! I welcome electronic distribution of magazines and newsletters! I have a lot more hard drive and flash drive space than physical space, and I can take the electronic versions with me on a flash drive. Not to mention saving publishing and mailing costs.

Last year, Everton's Genealogical Helper offered an electronic download version of their magazine for a reduced price of $12 per year (vs. $29 per year for the print issue). I jumped at that opportunity also - it was a great price for a wealth of information. It saved many trees, I'm sure, not to mention mailing costs.

There are at least two other genealogy magazines that offer electronic download format - Internet Genealogy (with a printed option) and The Digital Genealogist. I subscribe to the Internet Genealogy magazine (and just noticed today that they now offer a $15 download price and a $21 print price) but not Digital Genealogist (which is only a download for $25 yearly). Both offer 6 issues per year.

Ancestry Magazine is available in a web page format for free or in print for $17.95 per year.

What about the other genealogy magazines? Family Tree Magazine, Family Chronicle and Discovering Family History are still print only, as far as I know.

Am I missing any nationally published magazines in the USA?

What about other genealogical societies? The National Genealogical Society sends a print version of the NGS Quarterly and NGS News Magazine to subscribers, but offers an electronic download of NGSQ on their subscription web site. I don't subscribe to other national, regional or state publications, so I'm not aware of other society periodicals in electronic format.

The trend is toward offering electronic versions of genealogy magazines and periodicals, but not every publication offers a reduced price for the electronic version.

When will the print-only magazines decide to offer a reduced price for their magazines? Or will the economy force some of the other magazines to increase their prices. Will the economy sort this out, with some magazines folding or being absorbed by others?

What is the market here? Is it already saturated with magazines? Each magazine has a fairly unique style that bodes well for their survival. My impression is that the magazines are subscribed to by a fairly small percentage of genealogy researchers, and many (like me) subscribe to two or more magazines.

Updated 4/23: Readers Valerie C. and Diane Haddad commented that Family Tree Magazine has downloadable issues of the magazine for $5.99 each here, but does not offer a digital subscription.

Updated 4/25: I edited several paragraphs above a bit to be more accurate. Elizabeth Kerstens Kelley, who publishes Digital Genealogist magazine, asked if price was my only criteria in this post. She pointed out that her magazine has 6 issues per year, each with almost 50 pages of content without advertising, and that is why the price of the magazine is higher than some others - there is no advertising revenue to offset publishing costs. I agree that an apples to apples comparison would judge the number of content pages, the quality of the authors, etc. I didn't do that in this post - I was more interested in making the point that some offer a reduced price for a digital download from the print version and some don't offer digital downloads at all.

Frank Slaton asked if any genealogy magazines or blogs offer Kindle subscriptions yet. I think the concept is a great idea. I don't think any of them do yet, but if the demand was high enough, I'm sure that the publishers would jump on the idea. Is Kindle only for commercial subscriptions? I haven't looked at it in detail. Can a Kindle owner put their own content on the Kindle, or is it strictly a download through a subscription provider? Interesting question.


Anonymous said...


I think you only missed a brand new magazine that has yet to publish its first issue.

Topics in Genealogical Theory and MethodsDo not know anything besides what is on the TIGTAM website.

- Tamura

Gene Pennington said...

You asked if there were any genealogy societies who publish their magazines electronically. The Pennington Research Assoication ( publishes our Pennington Pedigrees twice a year on a CD. We mail the CD to all our Members and to several regional and national libraries in the US. We also sell back issues of the Pedigrees to the public.

We did have several challanges as we made the change from printed format to the CD a few years ago but so far the majority of our Members are pleased with the results. We did not have to increase our Membership dues and the cost of pubishing on a CD was less expensive than the printed format. We estimate it cut our publication and mailing costs by about 50%.

We were able to add many more pages of material to each issue and to add pictures, maps, documents as well as links to websites which have greatly enhanced the publication.

If any genealogy society is considering electronic publication, I recommend it.

Gene Pennington, Chairman and Research Director
Pennington Research Association, Inc.

Deb said...

The Tennessee Genealogical Society not only has the option of receiving the quarterly publication as a digital document or in print, but has recently decided to place their archive of quarterly newsletters (published since 1954) on their website for FREE access. The Tennessee Genealogical website can be found at Choose ANSEARCHIN' NEWS ARCHIVES from the left hand column. Search for a keyword (surname, location etc), then when the issue is found, use the Adobe Reader SEARCH facility to find your keyword in the issue. This document is a TREASURE of genealogical information.

Unknown said...

It looks like Family Tree Magazine is offering digital copies:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

A lot of publications are now jumping on the digital bandwagon, and more probably will in the future. I've got mixed feelings about it. The environmentally responsible person in me thinks it's a great idea, while the reader in me hates it! I MUCH prefer to curl up on a comfy sofa with a good magazine than to sit in front of a computer to read one. But, technology marches on.

Stephanie at Irish Genealogical

Diane Haddad said...

Yes, as Valerie said, Family Tree Magazine does have back issues available in digital format from our Web site. We don't have a digital subscription (yet).

Elizabeth K. Kerstens, managing editor said...

Is price your only consideration for subscribing to a publication? Each of the publications you discuss have different features and backing. In the case of Digital Genealogist, there is no national society or commercial organization behind the magazine. The magazine is completely independent and does not accept advertising, which is what allows the commercial magazines to lower their costs. Each bi-monthly issue contains nearly 50 pages of content, written by well-known experts in the genealogical community. Each of those authors is paid for their contributions (a factor not offered by society publications).

My point is that it seems only fair to compare apples to apples instead of making subscription price the criteria.

Frank Slaton said...

Do you know of any genealogy subscriptions for MY Kindle ?
Magazines or blogs ?
I read NY Times and Chicago Tribune on my Kindle daily - before picking up my LA Times from my driveway !