Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 9, Number 16 | June 29, 2008
Do Not Buy Avotaynu Books from Amazon.com
Avotaynu and Amazon.com are mad at each other. For many years, Amazon purchased books from us, one at a time, prepaid at a 20% discount. This is Avotaynu’s standard terms for single purchases from resellers. But the 600-pound gorilla (Amazon) informed us about two months ago that these terms were unacceptable. They insisted that we invoice them and stated they would not pay until 90 days after the date of the sale. So David (Avotaynu) told the Goliath of the online book sellers: “No.”
We expected Amazon to remove our books from their website. Instead they have elected to sell many of our books, which in the past stated “Usually ships within 2 to 4 weeks,” with a new statement, “Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information.”
So we decided to test Amazon’s sincerity and ordered a copy of A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia from them. One week later, not hearing from them, we asked the status of the order and received the following reply: “Thank you for writing to us at Amazon.com. I am extremely sorry for the inconvenience caused to you due to the delay in shipping your order, and I do understand your frustration in this matter. Sometimes, unexpected fluctuations in supply can add time to our original availability estimate. We have learned that the item A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia is now back-ordered, and our supplier does not know when they will have more in stock...”
There is only one problem. No “supplier” has ordered the book from Avotaynu and the book certainly is in stock at Avotaynu.
A second consideration. There are still a few of Avotaynu’s books at the Amazon.com site that say “Usually ships within 2 to 4 weeks.” So we decided to order one of those books. In the past, we assume that Amazon rapidly ordered a copy of Avotaynu’s book, prepaying, and we shipped the book to them typically the next day. We ordered Polish Sources at the Central Archives for the History Of The Jewish People. That was 10 days ago. To date, Amazon has not ordered the book from us.
While I have your attention, there is another practice at the Amazon.com website that begs caveat emptor (buyer beware). Amazon allows third parties to sell books through their website. They take a 20% commission for the service. It has become a very valuable used book market. But for every good thing there are abusers. Those Avotaynu books that Amazon has elected not to sell can be bought from these third-party dealers, in every case we have seen, at 50% or more above retail price.
Take for example The Naturalized Jews of the Grand Duchy of Posen in 1834 and 1835. You can buy it from Avotaynu for $34.95. You can buy it on Amazon for $111.70 from International Books. That company states “In stock...This book is brand new, never been opened and in superb condition.” We have never sold any book to International Books. We complained to Amazon that this was a disservice to their customers. Their reply was essentially “caveat emptor.” So what did Avotaynu do about it? We decided to become a third-party reseller of our own books on Amazon.com. For the value added by buying books published by Avotaynu through Amazon.com, you can buy new, never been opened and in superb condition, for only 20% more than the retail price we charge persons who elect to deal directly with us. Even with this 20% markup over list price, we are the cheapest third-party reseller for copies whose condition is given as “New.”
Finally, Amazon sells subscriptions to magazines at above retail price. You can order a one-year subscription to AVOTAYNU for $45 on Amazon.com. Our price was, until recently $35. (We had to increase it to $38 in 2008 because of mounting postal costs.) You can buy a one-year subscription to Ancestry at Amazon.com for $34.95 (reduced from $155.40, states the web site). Optionally, you can buy the same subscription from Ancestry.com for $24.95.
Searchable Eastern European Business Directories Grows to 31
There are now 31 searchable Eastern European business directories at Logan Kleinwaks site at http://kalter.org/search. There is also an 1894 Commercial Business Directory of the Jews of the United Kingdom. The search engine was created with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. This process is not 100% accurate, so the results are not either. The result of a search is a list of numbers of images (or pages, for the 1929 Polish business directory) in which your search term appears.
How to use the various search engines and display the results pages is not necessarily obvious and Kleinwaks suggests reading the first Frequently Asked Questions at http://kalter.org/searchfaq.html. For the most part, the steps are as follows:
1. Locate a specific directory you wish to search.
2. Use the Search engine associated with the directory (they are separated by different colors).
3. The displayed results will indicate which image numbers in the directory have the searched items. If there are many, write down the image numbers.
4. Click on the name of the directory being searched. It will take you to the Internet site that contains the directory.
5. Directories are viewed by different plug-in viewers. If you do not have the requested viewers, install it.
6. Click the link to display the first page of the directory.
7. Depending on how the viewing software allows you to skip to a specific image, modify the number to get to the desired image.
Kleinwaks allows searches in a variety of manners, each described in detail at the site. They are: Regular, Sensitive, Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex and CR-Adjusted.
The directories are divided into sections. Those currently available are:
Poland/Danzig Business Directories
1926/1927 Poland and Danzig Business Directory (Trade, Industry, Handicraft, and Agriculture)
1928 Poland and Danzig Business Directory (Trade, Industry, Handicraft, and Agriculture)
1929 Poland and Danzig Business Directory (Trade, Industry, Handicraft, and Agriculture)
1930 Poland and Danzig Business Directory (Trade, Industry, Handicraft, and Agriculture)
Poland and Galicia
1901 Galicia Industry Directory
1904 Poland Manufacturers' Directory
1912 Galicia Telephone Directory
1914/1915 Galicia and Bukovina War Refugees Address Directory, Vol. III (excl. Lwow, Krakow)
1914/1915 Krakow War Refugees Address Directory
1921/1922 Poland Joint Stock Company Directory
1923 Poland and Danzig Commercial Directory
1932 Bialystok Address Directory
1925 Western Poland Business Directory (Great Poland, Pomerania, Silesia, Danzig)
1937 Poland Business, School, and Organizational Directory (Selected Cities)
1938 Economic Directory of Kielce, Krakow, Silesia Provinces
1914 Upper Silesia Industry Directory
1914 Upper Silesia Trade Directory
1927 Lower Silesia Industry, Trade, and Craft Directory
1939/1940 Silesia Business Directory
1925 Romania Business and Organizational Directory, Vol. I (Bucharest)
1924/1925 Romania Business and Organizational Directory, Vol. II (rest of Romania)
1894 Commercial Directory of the Jews of the United Kingdom (Harfield)
1826 Warsaw Directory
1938/1939 Warsaw Telephone Directory
1885 Posen (City) Address and Business Directory
1924 Poznan Telephone and Business Directory
1930 Poznan (City) Address Directory
1936/1937 Poznan Business Directory
1946 Poznan Business Directory
1902 Lwow Address and Business Directory
1910 Lwow Address Directory
1913 Lwow Address Directory
1914/1915 Lwow War Refugees Address Directory
News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at http://lyris.jewishgen.org/ListManager. A log in is required. You can link to the SIG home pages from http://www.jewishgen.org. There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at http://www.iajgs.org/Member-Index.htm.
Austria-Czech SIG. There are extremely detailed 18th-century maps of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia located at http://oldmaps.geolab.cz/.
Early American SIG. The Institute for Southern Jewish Life has undertaken a project to compile an online history of every congregation and significant Jewish community in the South. This digital archive project is accessible at http://www.isjl.org. Click on the “New Digital History Archive.” Currently 83 communities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee are completed.
German Jewish SIG. The Aufbau Indexing Project plans to index all the announcements of birth, engagement, marriage, death and other special occasions that appeared in the pages of Aufbau between 1934 and 2004. The project’s web site is located at http://calzareth.com/aufbau/index.html. To date there are about 42,000 entries in the database, primarily from the 1940s and 1975–2003. An additional 2,500 records from 1945 will be added shortly. Aufbau is a German-language Jewish newspaper published in New York City.
Israeli Online Telephone Book
It is possible once again to search the online Israeli telephone book for a person without knowing their address. It is located at http://www.b144.co.il/default.aspx?_private=0. The site is in Hebrew. If you do not have a Hebrew-character keyboard, use the Stephen P. Morse site at http://stevemorse.org to convert names from the Roman to Hebrew alphabet. Then copy and paste the result to the B144 site (the rightmost box) and click the button to the left. Morse plans to add a one-step process to his site that will allow you to search the telephone directory without going through the involved procedure described above.
More About Stephen P. Morse
Stephen P. Morse has added an Enumeration District (ED) finder for the 1900 U.S. census to his web site. Previously covered were the census years 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940. This facility is extremely valuable when you cannot find a person in these censuses—perhaps due to misspelling of the name—but you know the street address. U.S. censuses divided major cities into Enumeration Districts.
To use the Morse facility, locate the address on some map such as the one at http://mapquest.com. Determine the ED at the Morse site by identifying the street on which the house is located and the intersecting streets.
Even More About Stephen P. Morse
When I first met Steve Morse I knew he was involved in the computer industry so I asked him for particulars. Among the accomplishments he stated was that he invented the PC. I responded by saying, “You mean you were on the team that invented the PC.” “No,” he said, “I invented the PC.” I was taken aback, but Morse explained to me the circumstances that led up to him being the sole inventor. You can now read about that accomplishment, published by PC World, at http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,146957/article.html?tk=nl_bexnws
“Jewish Data” Adds More Records
Jewish Data, located at http://www.jewishdata.com, contains a melange of more than 500,000 indexed records primarily from the Albany, New York, area but now extended to various locales throughout the world. For example, the site recently was updated to include more than 52,000 records for burials at the Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Several thousand record listings have been entered for Hebrew tombstone images from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
The site is worth a visit to determine if there is any information valuable to your research. It is a fee-for-service site, but members of the Jewish Genealogical Society Inc. (New York) have free access. Information about the society can be found at http://jgsny.org/.
Ohio Obituaries Online
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center web site, located at http://www.rbhayes.org/index, has and index to more than 1.2 million Ohio obituaries. Other newspaper items are in the index, including wills and estates and marriage notices, and a variety of sources such as funeral home and cemetery records, scrapbooks and history books. Dates range from 1810 to the present.
Map Price Increase
We received a price increase on the maps we sell just seven days after our semi-annual catalog went to the printer. For the most part it is $1 per map or set, primarily the sets of 19th century maps for:
• Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)
• Eastern Europe in World War I
A more detailed description can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/maps.htm
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