I have written before of my love of Google Books. Simply, Google Books is one of the best genealogy websites, that is not a genealogy website, that you can use.
Now, life has gotten even better with the advent of Google eBooks which allows you to download books to your computer, eReader (except for Kindle) or iPod/iPad. Yes, there are books that you pay for to download but there are also free books. There are 3 million books to peruse as of its launch yesterday.
So why is this important? Well first, the selection includes numerous family history/surname books that are available for free. You can also purchase, at a discount, some genealogical how-to mainstays. I spent last night downloading 20 free books that will help me in a project I am working on. The books look great on my iPad and it provides me one more way to carry my library with me when I go out to research. Digitized books provide convenience in that you can take numerous books with you wherever you go.
Downloading the app took seconds. I simply connected the iPad to my computer and had selected the download app button from the Google eBooks website. That in turn opened up the app on iTunes and allowed me to download it onto the iPad. I then started playing with it, searching for books I wanted to download. The search engine did not always work as I expected. I even had a few times where I searched on the same phrase and got entirely different results. There is no advanced search feature like with other Google products. But since it was the first day of this new product I would assume there may be some issues.
Some features I think would be helpful include the ability to easily return to your search results page instead of the site's homepage when you buy a book. It would be nice to be taken back to your search in case you wanted to buy more books in that category. It would also be nice to be shown the book's table of contents when you are looking at a book and deciding whether to buy it. However, you are able to download a free sample of the book which allows you to read some of the book first. I use this a lot with my Kindle and plan on doing the same with Google eBooks.
Google eBooks, the website on your computer, is synched with the Google eBooks app you have on your mobile device. So the books I added on my iPad are shown on my computer. This is another reason for having a Google account which is free and only requires an email address and password. So your reading is in the cloud, thus allowing you to access it anywhere. (This is also true for other eReader devices).
I highly recommend you check out Google eBooks. Even if you don't want to purchase digitized books, check out what free books are available that may help you with your genealogy research.