Disclosure: I often review complimentary copies of books from Genealogical Publishing Company and I received a complimentary 30-pass to MyGPC Library for the purposes of this review.
To begin, Genealogical Publishing Company has been around for decades – in fact, since 1952! It has a reputation for publishing well-done, quality works, which is what genealogical researchers need to document their work.
Browsing the categories, it is easy to see the huge range of titles in the genealogical.com store.
I have to admit that, in my own research at home, more than once, I’ve come across a book title that might well have some great genealogical information pertinent to my current research project.
Of course, my first instinct is to check possible availability of a free digital version. My heart would sink when I noticed that GPC was the publisher. That’s because most of their books are under copyright protection, which means finding a print copy of the book in a library unless I wanted to purchase a copy.
The caveat here is that with any item of quality, the price might be reasonable or it might be expensive, but, for sure, it won’t be cheap.
If I need to browse a book under copyright, I need that print copy and I probably won’t want to purchase the book sight unseen unless I am sure it’s a book I really need and want to own.
Well, there is a terrific solution to that dilemma with GPC’s books:
My GPC Library is a brand new eBook subscription service from Genealogical Publishing Company. Over 800 books (which is a good chunk, but not the entire company catalog) have been digitized, with a few more to come, plus future digital access of newly published books.
What does this access cost? It’s quite reasonable, especially when one considers the average cost today to buy a well done book:
At the very least, $45 for three months access is a bargain when I can browse an unlimited number of books – all of them, if I want! Also, $63.75 for six-month access and only $114.75 for an entire year are excellent prices.
Here is a great breakdown of the subject categories:
Here are a few of the many well-known titles available:
Okay, now you know what it’s about, but how does it work?
From my own experience, I have come across digital formats which are easy to navigate and a few that aren’t so easy. They actually take quite a bit of energy when I’m interested in page 523 in a 700 page book with no quick way to get there.
Therefore, when I was offered a chance to meet virtually with Barry Chodak, the owner, to learn more of the website ins-and-outs and to be able to ask questions, I accepted!
After the tour, I went exploring and browsing the website for myself.
In reality, how does it work? It’s very easy. Once I log into my account, a page opens:
First, not that along the bottom, the second choice is to take a tour of the library. It’s only a few slides long, but it provides a very brief overview of how the library can be used.
Notice the top book choice – Gary Boyd Roberts’ book on Rhode Island families, compiled from NEHGS data.
I have several Rhode Island families, so I wanted to check it out.
I can click on any of the titles in the Table of Contents and will immediately be taken to the correct page. Let’s say I want to save a note about Charles Gladding, who is mentioned near the top of the page. I highlighted the passage and an option box opened:
I can add a note, copy the information to a Word file or my genealogy software, or anywhere else I want, in appropriate, look it up in Wikipedia, create a flashcard (more suited to the university community, for whom this platform was developed, but can be used, say, by those teaching genealogy classes) or, amazingly, I can choose to have this portion read aloud!
I can also copy and print from the books – with a limit of just a few pages from each book, not the entire book.
Another time saver relates to saving those pesky source citations.
The image above is from the top left corner of the book page. I couldn’t capture the drop down menu if you click the dots, but it gives an option to copy the source citation, which is already created for us! I love this! A second option here is to copy the URL to notes.
I asked several questions:
1. How many more books in the company catalog will be digitized? Over 800 have been completed. There are a number of books that won’t be digitized, mainly because they have already passed to the public domain. If there is a book that hasn’t been digitized that we would like to see become available, it can’t hurt to make a request. Also, as new books are published, ebooks are also created and most of the new publications will be added to MyGPC Library.
2. What happens if I build my library shelf, create bookmarks, notes, etc. and I choose not to renew my subscription?
Although I would no longer have access to my book shelf, my account remains online and when I subscribe once again, everything will be there waiting for me.
Important to know – my notes can be exported as a PDF or Print format because my notes are my own work.
3. Can I download books?
Books may be downloaded to my own computer ONLY IF I PURCHASE AN EBOOK. However, with a subscription, there is an app available where a book can be downloaded to be read (NOT on my own computer, but in the cloud.)
4. Is there an easy way to search MyGPC Library?
Yes, there are two ways. First, on your account page, choose EXPLORE in the top left corner. There will be a search box to enter a title or author. I entered “David Dobson,” an author who specializes in Scottish and Irish records. A huge list of his books came up.
A second way to search, which isn’t obvious, is to browse the regular GPC website (where you’d purchase books.) If you see a title of interest, just copy and paste the ISBN number into the My GPC Library search box and the title will appear if it is part of the subscription library.
Searches may be done by title, author, ISBN, or by a subject, such as “Virginia.”
Subscribers can also browse by the various categories of books.
I think the new My GPC Library is a win-win for both researchers and Genealogical Publishing Company. It makes their huge catalog of books digitally accessible for a very reasonable price.
The website is very easy to use and offers users options to annotate, create notes, provides a ready-to-go source citation and allows everything on our personal bookshelf to be accessed whenever we have an active subscription.
There is even a Bookshelf App with which I can work remotely with the books and not even be connected to the internet. How cool is that?
Imagine how much one researcher could cover in 3 months!
If you aren’t familiar with Genealogical.com, or even if you are, I’d recommend visiting the regular for-sale portion of the website to learn more about their publications.
Tally up, in your mind, how much it would cost to purchase all the books of interest that you see. (Remember, there are some books not in the subscription service, but many, if not most, that you see for sale are. If in doubt, contact the company to ask if the books are available in My GPC Library.) If the total cost of books you’d like to access is $45 or more, trying out a 3-month subscription is very cost effective. No trips to libraries needed!