There are organizations out in the world who recognize the importance of preserving family and region histories and making them available to researchers. Luckily for genealogists these organizations are gathering these essentially rare published works and converting them into digital versions and making them available on the internet.
No more trolling libraries or rare book stores to find history collections created by small towns, organizations or individual families printed in paper books. With any luck you will be able to find copies on-line.
The beauty of a digitized book is that it is often searchable. With any luck you will find photos and maps in the books that will bring the history to life for you. I am deeply appreciative of the organizations who are pursuing the goal of creating these resources.
The history collections which I have used so far are described in Family History Collections.