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Suggestions for "modern" / next-gen family history books?

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    Suggestions for "modern" / next-gen family history books?

    I'm wanting to use my Reunion file to go beyond a traditional genealogy book. Something that engages readers (not everyone is a fam-hist geek like me)... something that draws them in... modernizes the format. Informative and usable... not meant to gather dust. I've seen so many doing just that, over the years, in genealogy libraries. Thinking maybe interactive beyond just links in a pdf... QR codes? I dunno.

    (I've read that there's a researcher named Marlis Glaser Humphrey who is "the" authority on next-gen family history publishing, but there's nothing I can find by her online to read more about what that might mean to her...)

    Of course I know "make a website" is an option, but I really want to find a way to do something fresh with the actual, printed, book format.

    Does anyone know of any resources online (or books I can order from Amazon...) talking about re-thinking the genealogy-book for the 21st century-plus? Or examples I should look at? I'd rather not reinvent the wheel if there are innovators out there from whom I might learn.

    Thanks in advance!!

    I've been thinking about this very thing for quite a while now and have no actual, proven solutions. However, some things I've tried already include PDFs with clickable links. For example, I've got hundreds of old letters in which people describe things ("we bought a new Studebaker," for instance) and I have inserted a link to an online photo of what that car might have looked like. In other letters there were joking references to then-current affairs (new freezers and Bess Truman, for example) and I googled them and sometimes found Wikipedia articles to explain which I could link up to the phrases in the letter. None of those worked well enough--still too many words and not enough pictures for my non-reading family.

    My latest attempt was with old family photos. I've got thousands of them so I used the Caption field in the photo's metadata to write the story of each photo. Took forever! I used Adobe Bridge and then uploaded everything to

    Ideas I'm looking at now: Reading those letters out loud and having pictures of the letter and maybe of the author and recipient showing on screen while the audio saves the listener from having to actually read the letter. Also, while all genealogy programs claim to produce ready-to-print books, none of them are interesting. They don't "draw you in," as you said. That requires writing the real story on you own and fitting it into the canned report. I generally use Word and import the book report from Reunion to Word. Some people use Scrivener and other such programs.

    I'm looking in to making interactive e-books, and also how to make mini-documentaries. All of these things sound great to me, but all lack the permanence of a real book. Will anyone continue to update the programs needed to maintain these new-fashioned works after I'm gone? Will they pay the annual subscriptions for the sites where I have posted things already? Probably not. Maybe you have to do both. Print a traditional boring book for posterity AND make documentaries, interactive e-books, movies, etc to get the current crowd interested.

    Since a lot of family stories/lore/traditions are often fictionalized versions of the facts, I'm thinking also of just picking certain ancestors and events and writing them up as short novels. I'd love to hear other ideas.


      EPUBs are easily made with Pages and/or other macOS Applications.

      EPUBs can contain multimedia content, links to websites, etc.
      Researching Western NC and Northeast GA and any family connected to Caney Fork in Jackson County, NC


        Thank you, Kirk and Susan!

        Yes, I've thought about adding links and content beyond the usual names/dates/stories to an e-book... I guess I'm in the same boat as Susan, wondering what more people have thought of, that could be done to push the format, electronically but especially the printed format—and as Susan said, also make sure it's evergreen/ has permanence, so that if Flickr or another website vanishes one day the history will still be usable.

        I'm sure all of us who've been doing this for a while have a shelf full of once-and-done books (and have known family members who don't even give such books that once-over)... all ideas for how to engage people we know now, AND those we'll never meet, decades from now, are welcome!!