Thousands of genealogy books are available to you right now. You can search for them and, if you find some that look interesting, you can be reading them within minutes. There is no waiting for the post office to deliver them. Best of all is the price: most of them are available free of charge!
NOTE: a few of the ebooks are only available on CD-ROM which obviously does involve a postal delay and normally costs some money.
As you may have guessed, these are out-of-copyright books printed prior to 1923 plus a handful of later books. Luckily, there were a lot of genealogy books published in those days. After all, the records weren’t as old back then!
In addition, I will list sources for many newer genealogy books that are for sale at modest prices.
Perhaps the best-kept secret about ebooks for genealogists: Genealogy Gophers
More than 80,000 digital genealogy books (!) are now fully searchable and downloadable for free at GenGophers.com. This new website enables genealogists for the first time to have free, easy, and precise searching of family history books.
Thousands of family history books and magazines are available to be searched directly from multiple websites. But searching through these websites and combing through the jumble of information they return can be a frustrating, costly, and fruitless process. GenGophers.com solves these problems by providing precise and free access to the industry’s most effective online search tools and a growing library of more than 80,000 downloadable family and personal histories, local histories, and genealogy newsletters.
Genealogy Gophers has the most easily searched and retrieved family history books on the Web. When legally possible, GenGophers will provide a link to a genealogy book that will allow you view or even download the ENTIRE BOOK! Search tools based on artificial intelligence algorithms significantly increase the chances of finding relevant search term matches compared to typical word search engines. Relevant pages and books can be downloaded for free from the GenGophers.com website.
GenGophers.com is the only website that – completely for free – returns genealogy book results only. Results include the publication name and a snippet from the page showing the highlighted search terms. Click on the URL shown and you will then see the entire book within a few seconds.
GenGophers.com is financially supported by ads and Google Consumer Surveys, which asks users a few market research questions once per day to view the free books. It is normally free to users although there is a “Pro version” that costs $19.95 but deletes the ads and surveys. The two versions are otherwise identical.
Genealogy Gophers may be found at: https://www.gengophers.com.
Other free sources of ebooks
Family History Library from FamilySearch (more than 80,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of some of the most important family history libraries in the world): https://books.familysearch.org/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do
Allen County (Indiana) Public Library’s Genealogy Center
Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library and at https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/BYU-FHL_Digital_Book_Collection
Brigham Young University Hawaii’s Joseph F. Smith Library
Houston Public Library – Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
Mid-Continent Public Library – Midwest Genealogy Center
Dozens of free online ebooks dealing with Canadian genealogy may be found by starting at http://www.genealogysearch.org/free/bcanada.html
British History Online is a digital library of primary and secondary sources on medieval and modern history of Great Britain. It was created and is managed, as a cooperative venture by the Institute of Historical Research, the University of London and the History of Parliament Trust.
Sources of ebooks available for purchase
Genealogical Publishing Company has a new online catalog of ebooks at http://library.genealogical.com while the catalog of printed books remains available at http://www.genealogical.com.
Heritage Books, Inc. at http://www.heritagebooks.com (most of the ebooks are available only on CD-ROM disks, including many newer titles.)
Archive CD Books USA: http://www.archivecdbooksusa.com – only sells CD-ROM images of old books
Archive CD Books Canada: http://www.archivecdbooks.ca – only sells CD-ROM images of old books
Archive CD Books (UK & Ireland): http://www.archivecdbooks.org – only sells CD-ROM images of old books
Special Mentions: The Internet Archive and Google Books
Archive.org doesn’t limit itself to genealogy books. It collects EVERYTHING and makes its entire collection available to all at no charge. The Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. Nobody knows how many genealogy and local history books are available in the Internet Archive but obviously it is huge number. You can check it out at: http://www.archive.org.
Another huge resource: Google Books with thousands of free ebooks, genealogy and almost every other imaginable topic at http://books.google.com.
Of course, there are the two long-time commercial book sellers:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com
Both companies sell ebooks and printed books alike.