You might encounter an “opportunity” to buy such a book at a mall kiosk, in a letter, online or by e-mail (often from someone claiming to have researched your family or even be a relative). According to the marketing, if you send some money, you’ll get valuable genealogical information, including a history of your family in America, a list of family members, a coat of arms, recipes, photos and more.
Don’t bite. All these books actually offer is general information about a surname, generic photos and coats of arms, and telephone book listings of people with your name, whether or not they’re related to you.
In 2005, the state of Colorado sued a business called Morphcorp for defrauding consumers with its family books. The suit alleged deceptive advertising, including the perpetrator’s claims he shared the last name of each consumer who received the offer. As it turns out, much of the books’ content was the same for every surname, including “family recipes” and “family pictures.”