RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shopping for genealogy online

Hmm. While the rest of you are out there standing in lines in Walmart or whatever, I am comfortably at home writing away on my computer. I find a huge disparity in the genealogists' attitude about buying things online. We have a significant segment of our (mainly older) population that are so concerned about the so-called identity theft, that they won't buy anything online for fear that someone will purchase a motorhome in their name. At the other end of the spectrum, I find some who would buy everything online if they could find a good deal.

I mainly find that the things I buy online are either much cheaper than an local price I can find or entirely unavailable. This is especially true for genealogically related products. I live in a huge city, the sixth largest city in the United States and I haven't found even one retail outlet in the entire city for genealogical products. I can find a genealogy program here and there, but if I want a book or whatever, I have to search online.

Fortunately, there are a number of genealogy specialty catalogs and bookstores online. First and foremost are the genealogy programs. Almost every program is available directly from its developer. So whatever program you want, usually, all you have to do is search for the name of the program, go to the website and purchase and download a copy or have the box with the installation disk sent directly to you.

If you go to genealogy conferences, you know that there are a lot of genealogically specific products and services. All of these are available online. I thought about including a list of online sources but as I began to think about it, I realized that the list is huge. There are

  • Genealogy programs
  • Charts and displays
  • Services
  • Organizers
  • Books
  • Videos
  • Pod Casts
  • Webinars
  • Keepsake items
  • Collectibles
  • Stamps

I am sure that I have not exhausted the categories. If you search for "genealogy products online" you can get an idea of the broad spectrum of products and online catalogs available.

Now what about the fear of using online services? In talking to people about this issue, I have come to the conclusion that explanations of the online purchase process don't really help assuage the fear. It is sort-of like trying to talk my Grandmother, who was afraid of flying, into taking an airplane instead of a bus across the country. Every time you use a credit card, there is a danger that the number or the card will be stolen. That is a fact of life. Every time you get in a car, there is a danger that you will be killed. Most of us, accept the risk and go ahead and ride in our cars and use our credit cards. If you can't do either because of your own fears, then there is not much I can say that will change your mind. But if you are interested in genealogy related products, you can go to conferences and talk to the vendors or you can go online and find what you want. That's about the choices right now. 

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