ABOUT THE PROJECT
People ask "Where do you get your books?" Our simple answer is "Anywhere we can" but that is very superficial. The full answer is:
What we would prefer was that all the old books for the project were loaned to us. That way those doing the lending gain something (including complimentary copies of the digital edition so their original can be preserved) - and the genealogy / history community gets far better access to the books. However we do also buy books and later we may give them away (to suitable organizations) when The Project has finished with them.
We realize you are looking for the best value for your hard earned research funds so, on the sales side we try to keep our digital book reproductions at the most reasonable price we can. However these same funds from the proceeds of CD sales also have to help to buy more books for the project and, if we can, pay for the needed maintenance of books loaned to us.
That's the basics, now for the detail.We believe you deserve value for your money, so when we make a digital reproduction we spend as much time and effort as needed on making the best - most readable and faithful - replication of the original that we can. Our customers like this as it makes research easier and computer searches of our digital products give the most complete and accurate results it is possible to provide today! However the proceeds of our CD sales have to fund all our operations, to buy more books for the project, and when a Digital Reproduction of a Book has "earned its keep" it allow us to set aside money to pay for books loaned to us to be professionally renovated when its needed.
See - it is simplicity itself - it is self-funding. And the more digital book editions the Project produces, the more it grows.
The above chart is modeled on the one created when the Archive CD Books Project began in March 2000 and the principles have remained unchanged. What happened since then is that there has been enormous growth in the use of the Internet and genealogy information has become far more readily available. At the same time the Archive CD Books Project has gone international, and the reason the Project has continued and expanded – it’s thanks to you - our supporters.
At first the Project's originator, Rod Neep, used to do everything himself. Soon though he had to employ people to allow him to keep up with your demand for his economically priced product - and a lot of this demand was coming from outside the British Isles. Clearly there was a need for the Archive CD Books project to go international – but how to do this while remaining based in Britain.
Rod solved this problem with a radical idea! Instead of taking the classic course of further expanding his operations to include overseas offices, with all the difficulties that brings, he decided to invite anybody resident in one of the countries he was getting significant numbers of orders from, to enter into a partnership with him. Each of the international branches was to be an independent company, initially, with Rod as a director so his knowledge and experience could be bought directly to the new company. In order to be eligible to open an international branch of the Archive CD Books project the new partners had to agree to uphold the principles central to the success of the project:
Quality, value for money and a policy of “giving back” to the community by ensuring that valuable historic records are preserved.
For instance he insisted that each new partner have the "right" equipment, including the scanners and robotic CD makers and professional software. Also, all partner branches had to make the "masters" of their Digital Book Reproductions available, so all branches would have access to essentially the same inventory. Also the prices of each CDs remained about the same no matter which branch they’re bought from (within the limitations of international exchange, taxes and mailing costs).
The Archive CD Books Project relies very heavily on "word of mouth" recommendations. We cannot justify the huge expenses of "Madison Avenue" style, broadly targeted, advertising. (If we did that, the prices of the Digital Book Reproductions would certainly have to be greatly increased). We employ more economical, more tightly focused marketing opportunities, and we rely on the superb quality of our products to generate "word of mouth" advertising - the most honest and successful form of advertizing there is! Without this "word of mouth" activity taking place our digital products would not sell in sufficient quantities to justify the cost of buying books and reproducing them in the digital format. Our only alternatives would be to cease trading or to increase the prices considerably, and either of these would defeat the object of the Archive CD Books Project.
Books loaned by Organizations: Records Offices, Public & Private Libraries, Museums or Societies
Organizations such as these usually have collections of the sort of books that are in demand by you, our customers.
The best ones of course, are those that are rare or unique and contain lots of peoples' names or historically significant information. These will always be the most popular, although really well written and researched county history books, and old "travel" books, will provide a vast amount of background information for the family historian too. It goes without saying that we will NEVER make "public" a copy of any book which is still protected by copyright unless we obtained a permission or license to do so.
One of the problems that the public and private organizations tend to have in common is that their popular, out of print, rare and expensive books begin to wear out and deteriorate from their frequent use. While some "first aid" may be applied to the book by the custodians, what the book really needs is less use! Joining us in a "Cooperative project" to make a high quality digital reproduction can resolve this dichotomy by allowing the rare original book to be placed in reserved, archival, storage while the digital reproduction is made available for everyday use. Our experience has been that engaging in a single book "Cooperative project" with us will generally lead to an ongoing relationship to "rescue" more of an organization's books from an "early grave." And, as an added bonus, the previously "rare" book now becomes more readily available.
We (generally) love and respect old books as a link to our past, and we do our very best to never cause any (further) harm to come to them. If a book is so far deteriorated that (even with our experience in handling fragile old documents) making a digital copy would do significant harm, we would rather forgo the opportunity to make the copy. On the other hand we may ask the owner for permission to apply minimal "first aid" (using appropriate archival materials) to eliminate the risk of causing further damage, We prefer to retain the book until we have completed our digital "clean up" and Mastering processes - so we can refer back to the original to get the best interpretation of hard to read parts - but can return the book a.s.a.p. if it is urgently needed.
Books Loaned by Individuals
There are a lot of people who have a private collection, or just the odd book, that they treasure. What do they gain from loaning their books to the project? Our experience has been that people get a lot of satisfaction from being able to share their "special book" without the risk inherent in loaning the original out. It's a treat to be associated with such people!
On the other hand, if you have another plan in mind, we are open to trying to accommodate everybody's business or particular needs so please don't hesitate to contact us if you have a book you think would be suitable for our purposes. We must, however, always reserve the right to disagree about your book's suitability to be the subject of a "Cooperative project" and may recommend you consider our digitizing your document(s) as a "Private Archiving" project instead so you can peruse your own Project independently.
Books Purchased by the Archive CD Books Project
Some of these old books can be very expensive. The price of an individual "collector" book tends to be controlled more by its rarity, appearance, and condition (state of preservation) than by its content. We, of course, are primarily interested in the content, with rarity as a preference, the condition is generally not a serious issue for us as long as the "text block" is complete! This places us in an advantageous position when negotiating with a book dealer in that we are willing to buy the books he would normally have difficulty selling to a "collector." There is also a hidden advantage here also because rare book dealers are prone to "pass over" or simply discarding books they would have difficulty selling to "collectors," so we consider these "rescue" books which we can give a "forever home," albeit as a digital edition if they are beyond recovery.
The above is part of the reason you may also find us poking about in flea markets, garage sales, "Antique" shops, and country auctions. It is not unknown for "useful" books to find their way into these venues from family book collections. This used to be a very cheap way to obtain books but people are better educated about their book's value (or wildly overestimated value) so good "finds" are becoming rare. (Just an aside here; The used book market is one of the most difficult, and seemingly chaotic, fields of commerce we have EVER come into contact with, so if you are considering entering it be sure to do your research thoroughly and carefully!)
I'll mention one other example of how we obtain access to books, (not because we expect this to ever happen again, but to illustrate our flexibility in working with you as an individual): A lady contacted us inquiring if we had a digital version of a particular old book. We did not, but we researched it anyway. It turned out to be an extremely interesting volume consisting of a large, and incredibly detailed, map of London in the time of Henry VIII AND a printed and bound book describing contemporary "walks" around the streets shown in the map, pointing out scenes of interests and the locations of historic events! In our resulting discussions with her, it transpired that the lady wanted a digital edition of the map for use in a course of education she was undertaking, with the aim of becoming an author. She had only found one available copy of the book for sale, by a European book dealer. She indicated she was willing to buy the book but was uncertain about making a significant purchases online, and would have no means of digitizing the map if she did so. To cut a long story short, we acted as her "agent" in purchasing the book and when it arrived we made the digital edition of "London in the Olden Time - c1538" you will find in our catalog under our reference No. CAB0352. We have now returned both the Digital Reproduction and the copy of the original book to her, with our grateful thanks. Another successful project where everyone gained!.
No matter what the source, our first consideration of a "new to us" book has to be, "Can we sell enough digital reproductions of this book to cover our costs?" which brings us full circle again to you - the customer. While we would love to do all this as a hobby, it HAS to be a commercial enterprise and that means our expenses, including the buying of books, has to come from our income, OUR SALES, so please help us to get "the word" out by mentioning us to your friends and colleagues who have expressed an interest in history or genealogy.