13 December 2011

Books Cannot be Replaced Yet by Tech Alone

While I was away from my computer having fun with visiting family, a crisis in the genealogy world has been averted, or so it seems.

For some unfathomable reason the RootsTech planners decided they would not allow book vendors in the exhibit hall even though they had actively solicited those vendors a few months ago. Very bad form—unfair to the book publishers and to the thousands of us who buy those books.

Leland Meitzler of Family Roots Publishing Company posted about this decision on December 10th. He added an update on December 12th that RootsTech had changed their mind and will allow some book sellers. Also check out Amy Coffin's We Tree RootsTech by the Book and Thomas MacEntee's GeneaBloggers My Genealogy is Rooted in Books articles on this subject. All have many interesting comments following the initial posts.

I certainly hope RootsTech allows all of the book publishers to exhibit. If they are not going to allow book publishers now and in the future, RootsTech will not be on my must-visit list of conferences. Most of us can't afford to attend every conference. We have to pick and choose. In addition to the location, speakers, and the learning experience, the exhibit hall is an important part of my considerations. I tend to buy a lot of books when I drive to the conference. Even when I don't buy a lot of books at the conference, I get a chance to look at the books and place an order later knowing what I will be getting. This hands-on experience is especially important when there are multiple books on the same topic and I can only afford one of them.

I am not a technophobe who resists changes in technology. In my previous "life" I was a computer engineer. Even in that life most of my learning was done from books and technical papers written by experts. Books are an important adjunct to hearing a good speaker teach. I've tried an e-book reader and love PDFs for some things. Using the PDF search feature on a reference book like Evidence Explained is a life saver. Being able to take lots of recreational reading in a Kindle on a trip sure saves on luggage weight. But often I want a printed book I can easily fan the pages on to see what is there and what I might need that I don't know is there until I see it. Browsing is NOT easily done on an e-book reader and don't even think about looking at the endnotes—it's even more frustrating than it is when having to use two bookmarks in a printed book, one for the text and one for the endnotes.

I won't be registering for RootsTech 2013 until I know what their plans are for exhibitors. But I definitely will be going to FGS 2012 in Birmingham and NGS 2013 in Las Vegas. I'll be driving to both so have lots of space in the car for books.

© 2011, Debbie Parker Wayne, All Rights Reserved

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