Since the early days of the Society, one of our ongoing activities has been the production of printed books of Monumental Inscriptions (or “MIs” in the genealogical jargon). In 2010 we produced the 100th (“The Kirkyard of Banchory-Devenick”) and ongoing demand ensures that we regularly have to order reprints of earlier titles.Kirkyard of Banchory Devenick

The booklets come in a handy A5 format (small enough to go in a jacket pocket when visiting a graveyard) and are very reasonably priced, but rising postal costs mean that a booklet with a cover price of £2 or £3 can end up costing an overseas member nearer £10. So we have launched an experiment: this is to re-issue some of our existing MI titles as “Kindle” E-Books. This means they will be accessible on physical “Kindle” devices, but also on PCs, tablets and smartphones, using the appropriate (free) downloadable reader App.

Kirkyard of FyvieThe “Kindle” version of an MI booklet includes the full text of every inscription, exactly as in the printed version. It omits the Surname Index found in the printed version, as the “Search” facilities of the various “Kindle” platforms give a much more powerful way of locating individuals: it is possible to search the inscriptions, not merely for “Smith”, but for “John Smith” or “Mary Smith” or any other name variant. The only limitation is that searching is literal, so a search for “McDonald” will not find “MacDonald” so you may need to try variant spellings. It is also possible to search for placenames, occupations or indeed anything that might occur in the text.

The “Kindle” version also omits the Kirkyard Plan included in the printed edition – the various hardware and software platforms on which “Kindle” E-books can be read vary widely in their capability for displaying graphics, and in many cases the image would be too small to be useful. However, each “Kindle” MI book will include a link to an online version of the relevant Kirkyard Plan, which can be downloaded to a PC for viewing or printing.

Until we see what demand there is for this facility, we have uploaded only a few sets of MIs, but if these prove popular, more will follow. The exact price in any given country will vary with currency fluctuations, but they are all priced at less than the equivalent printed version. They are available from the “Kindle Store” on Amazon – a search for “Monumental Inscriptions North East Scotland” will bring up the list. Finally, a word of reassurance for bibliophiles (like me!) There is absolutely no intention to cease production and sale of the print versions. Digital data can be very convenient, but it is notoriously evanescent. The printed word, on the other hand, lasts for centuries, so physical copies of the MIs will still be around long after we have started pushing up the daisies.

Gavin Bell