EEBO Editions Now Available Through Amazon

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In August,  Eleanor posted a piece on ECCO’s print on demand (POD) offerings through various online booksellers.  These POD copies are produced by companies such as Nabu, Bibliolife, BiblioBazaar, and others.

EEBO has also struck a deal with Bibliolife, making about 3,000 EEBO POD titles available through Amazon.com.  These can be found by searching Amazon for “EEBO Editions.”  According to Jo-Anne Hogan, Product Manager at ProQuest, this initial offering through Bibliolife is  a trial stage; evaluating the response to and quality of the books will be necessary before ProQuest will expand the title list offered through POD.  It is thus a good  moment to reflect on the nature of the entries.

Neither Gale nor ProQuest flag the status of the books they sell as digital reprints on or near the title line, though both companies include boilerplate marketing blurbs about the nature of digital reprints later in the entry.  A simple flag next to the initial title, something like  [paperback digital reprint] or [paperback digital facsimile], would help all readers understand what these books are.

ECCO’s POD entries provide something like full bibliographical information only inconsistently.   EEBO entries on Amazon provide consistently fuller bibliographical information, though this information appears under “Editorial Reviews” rather than under “Product Details.”  By scrolling down Amazon’s entry for the digital reprint of  a pirated copy of Lily’s Short Introduction to Grammar (1570), for example, we find the following information:

++++
The below data was compiled from various identification fields in the bibliographic record of this title. This data is provided as an additional tool in helping to insure edition identification:
++++

A shorte introduction of grammar generally to be vsed, compiled and sette forth, for the bringyng vp of all those that intende to attaine the knowledge of the Latine tongue.
Lily, William, 1468?-1522.
Colet, John, 1467?-1519.
Robertson, Thomas, fl. 1520-1561.
By William Lily, with contributions by John Colet, Thomas Robertson, and others.
Signatures: A-C D4, A-G H4, A-B4.
In three parts.
Part 2 has a separate title page, without imprint, reading: Brevissima institutio seu ratio grammatices cognoscendae, ad omnium puerorum vtilitatem praescripta, quam solam regia maiestatis in omnibus scholis profitendam praecipit.
Part 3 has a half title, reading: Nominum in regulis generum contentorum, tum heteroclitorum, ac verborum interpretatio aliqua.
Title pages for parts 1 and 2 within ornamental borders.
A pirated edition, probably printed in Holland.–STC.
Another edition of STC 15610.10, first published in 1548.
Some print faded and show-through; some pages marked and stained.
[192] p.
[Holland? : s.n., c. 1570]
STC (2nd ed.) / 15615
Latin
Reproduction of the original in the Cambridge University Library

This is, in fact, a slightly revised version of the EEBO entry for the same pirated edition of Lily’s Short Introduction of Grammar:

Title: A shorte introduction of grammar generally to be vsed, compiled and sette forth, for the bringyng vp of all those that intende to attaine the knowledge of the Latine tongue. Create interaction
Author: Lily, William, 1468?-1522. Create interaction
Other authors: Colet, John, 1467?-1519. Create interaction
Robertson, Thomas, fl. 1520-1561. Create interaction
Imprint: [Holland? : s.n., c. 1570]
Date: 1570
Bib name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 15615
Physical description: [192] p.
Notes: By William Lily, with contributions by John Colet, Thomas Robertson, and others.
Signatures: A-C D4, A-G H4, A-B4.
In three parts.
Part 2 has a separate title page, without imprint, reading: Brevissima institutio seu ratio grammatices cognoscendae, ad omnium puerorum vtilitatem praescripta, quam solam regia maiestatis in omnibus scholis profitendam praecipit.
Part 3 has a half title, reading: Nominum in regulis generum contentorum, tum heteroclitorum, ac verborum interpretatio aliqua.
Title pages for parts 1 and 2 within ornamental borders.
A pirated edition, probably printed in Holland.–STC.
Another edition of STC 15610.10, first published in 1548.
Some print faded and show-through; some pages marked and stained.
Reproduction of the original in Cambridge University Library.
Copy from: Cambridge University Library
UMI Collection / reel number: STC / 1354:02
Subject: Latin language — Grammar — Early works to 1800.

While this bibliographical information is provided consistently for EEBO editions on Amazon and its affiliate, Abebooks, it does not  get transferred to entries provided by other online booksellers, like Alibris.  It would be interesting to account for this failure to get full bibliographical information transferred.

ProQuest’s decision to make EEBO titles available through POD is a promising new development.  Its attempt to create a template providing fuller bibliographical information than has yet been attempted must be applauded.  Some questions remain:

  • Are the entries as functional as they need to be?  That is, can a scholar looking for a specific edition of an early modern text locate the exact POD copy, given the entries provided?
  • Can the layout be improved?
  • Is there a more efficient template (a different set of fields, for example) for bibliographical information than the fields currently envisioned?

I look forward to hearing readers’ reactions to these new POD offerings.

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16 Responses to “EEBO Editions Now Available Through Amazon”

  1. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Thanks, Anna. It seems that Bibliolife/Nabu/BiblioBazar (the three names evidently all are part of the same publishing entity) is the publisher of choice for the POD copies of titles found in commercial electronic subscription databases.

    The bibliographic information provided and the layout of this information adhere closely to the ESTC listing for this title, and that continuity should help in ensuring proper identification.

    The extent of this bibliographic detail does not seem to occur across the board with titles published by BiblioLife. Numerous reader reviews on Amazon remark about problems with the work they receive being either incomplete (missing indexes, illustrations, pages–often thought to be include because the listing is accompanied by a “Look Inside” bar) or suffering from poor production quality (too small font, often excessively wide margins, or even full sized pages being intermixed with thumbnail page images). Most of the complaints I’ve read seem to refer to nineteenth-century titles. However, the following review by Evelina is for Richardson’s History of Sir Charles Grandison:

    This review is from: The History of Sir Charles Grandison (Paperback) Sir Charles Grandison is a wonderful work, and more people should have access to it, so I was delighted to find that Bibliolife had a version available. I saw that it was 336 pages, so I assumed it was an abridgement and I was interested to see how they had decided to abridge it. I was deeply disappointed to find that they have reproduced only the first volume out of the seven — so if you buy this, you’ll be missing the last 1200 pages or so.

    The title of the book doesn’t mention that this is a fragment, and the description on Amazon never suggests that this isn’t the complete novel. This is a fairly serious misrepresentation.

    So don’t buy this, but do buy the full text and read it.

    The product description/editorial review for this particular edition is severely lacking bibliographic information:

    Review
    Epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson, published in seven volumes in 1754. His last completed novel, it anticipated the novel of manners of such authors as Jane Austen. Sir Charles Grandison is a gallant nobleman known for his heroic integrity and magnanimity. He rescues the honorable Harriet Byron when she is kidnapped by Sir Hargrave Pollexfen, her spurned suitor. Eventually, Grandison and Byron fall in love. — The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
    Product Description
    First published in 1753, Richardson’s third novel was immensely popular. Richardson draws on every kind of narrative technique in this intricate and logically patterned novel. He creates a work that is at once a novel of manners, a novel of sensibility, a Gothic novel–a variety of genres that highlight his gift for witty character sketch and brisk dialogue. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    BiblioLife was founded in 2008 by Mitchell Davis and others. Davis had previously owned BookSurge, but he and his partners sold this POD publishing company to Amazon in 2005, at which point he went to work for Amazon. He left Amazon in 2008 when he and others launched BiblioLife.

  2. Alan Pritchard Says:

    Appears only to be in the USA. A search on “EEBO editions” on Amazon.co.uk does not give any relevant results.

    • Eleanor Shevlin Says:

      Alan,

      You need to search by title and author. These works do seem to be available via Amazon.co.uk:

      A Shorte Introduction of Grammar Generallye to Be Vsed: Compyled and Set Forth, for the Bringing VP of All Those That Intende to Attaine the Knowled [Paperback]
      William Lily (Author)

      No customer reviews yet. Be the first.
      ——————————————————————————–
      RRP: £17.99
      Price: £17.09 & this item Delivered FREE in the UK with Super Saver Delivery. See details and conditions
      You Save: £0.90 (5%)

  3. Simon Says:

    Interesting! This could be really useful. Unfortunately they’re only available from Amazon.com at the moment. Shipping to Britain is a bit steep, but I’ve ordered one anyway, I’ll be fascinated to see how it turns out.

    First impressions of the selection of books they’ve chosen is that they seem to be offering a lot of Latin works; wouldn’t it have made sense to start with English works?

    • Anna Battigelli Says:

      Simon:

      I hope you will report back on the copy you receive, and on its quality.

      We have all read originals in which the ink on the reverse has bled through,
      making the page difficult to read, so we probably can’t expect that
      kind of problem to get cleaned up for a POD copy, though perhaps
      playing with contrast might help. It will be interesting to hear what the bindings and paper are like, and whether the book is cropped appropriately.

      Perhaps most importantly, it will be interesting to hear whether the
      surrogate is satisfactory for reading.

  4. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Simon,

    As I noted above, if you search for title and author, you will find that these works are being sold by Amazon.co.uk. Yet, on the title I pulled above, there’s no publisher offered (rendered as “unknown”) and absolutely no bibliographic information given.

    Anna’s post indicates that EEBO is making available 3,000 titles, so I suspect that you will find some English-language titles among the mix. That said, EEBO currently has 100,000 out of the 125,000 titles listed in STC, so the POD offerings represent only a very small sample.

  5. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Doesn’t the layout of the information need to be improved?
    I’d like to hear suggestions from those with good eyes for
    such things.

  6. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Anna,

    I might not have good eyes for this sort of thing, but that the layout mimics that found in ESTC would seem to be a plus (at least for scholars who are working in the early modern period). The commercial copy, though, lacks field names in the listing, and adding them would improve the layout/appearance.

    Because these works are sold through Amazon and various other outlets, I am not sure how one would go about suggesting different layout. I wonder if ProQuest or Gale or BiblioLife (for that matter) could stipulate? And how dependent is the layout on existing software and existing databases used by the vendors? I’m not sure the market interests in these titles would convince Amazion and others to invest in making changes.

  7. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Yes, having the fields labeled, a practice that both ESTC and EEBO follow in their entries, would help (see the EEBO entry above).

    It’s great that EEBO has provided this bibliographical information. But the layout needs to be clearer, especially for those who do not regularly read ESTC or EEBO entries.

    It would be interesting to hear from ProQuest or Gale or BiblioLife about this matter.

  8. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    I suspect that ProQuest or Gale would have little control over how information for these works are presented. From what I gather from some online sales outfits, some sellers of these work have little concern about which edition they are selling.

  9. Anna Battigelli Says:

    But both Gale and ProQuest would be able to talk to BiblioLife, which works
    with Amazon, right? And since it’s in everyone’s interest to help
    consumers identify exact editions, a nice entry, capitalizing
    on the fuller detail provided consistently by ProQuest seems
    possible.

    This richer information would not, of course, necessarily
    transfer to other online stores, especially if an individual chose
    to resell her or his POD copy through that store. But if sellers
    simply advertised BiblioLife’s catalog, they could have
    access to the information.

  10. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Yes, I would say that Gale and Proquest could arrange with BiblioLife to supply full entries. In fact, it seems that Proquest has done so, and BiblioLife has provided this information for Amazon USA (and by extension AbeBooks). Yet, Amazon UK does not provide any info for A Shorte Introduction of Grammar Generallye to Be Vsed. While Amazon UK does not even offer a date or publisher (given as “unknown”), it does provide the same cover image offered by Amazon in the US and AbeBooks. My point was merely that there comes a time when Gale and Proquest lose control–and Anna’s reply details those istuations. I would think that Amazon UK and USA, though, would be standardized, but my assumption seems to be wrong (as Simon’s experience seems to suggest, too, when he could not find the EEBO PODs on Amazon UK).

    Because the “storefront” online sellers on Amazon appear as part of the original listing, the full description for the EEBO titles appears. Yet if one searches these storefront sites, the title doe snot come up–let alone the full bibliographic info.

    Barnes & Noble online provides the same bibliographic info for Shorte Introduction of Grammar Generallye to Be Vsed as appears on Amazon (USA).

    On the BiblioLife website, there’s no mention of EEBO, but there the following linked note:

    “You can purchase historical books from BiblioLife BiblioLife and titles from Gale Eighteenth Century Collections Online.”

    When one clicks on the Gale link, one arrives at Amazon. The first title that appears out of a long list is Defoe’sThe life, adventures, and pyracies, of the famous Captain Singleton. It’s cover inmage has a “Look Inside” link that reveals an edition published by Kessinger, admittedly with a note warning of the difference. Like most of the BiblioLife ECCO editions, the bibliographic info does contain portions of the ESTC info, with the fields labeled:

    The below data was compiled from various identification fields in the bibliographic record of this title. This data is provided as an additional tool in helping to insure edition identification:
    ++++
    British Library

    T069688

    Written in the first person; in fact by Daniel Defoe. Page numbers 209-224 are repeated; text and register are continuous.

    London : printed for J. Brotherton, J. Graves, A. Dodd, and T. Warner, 1720. [2],344[i.e.360]p. ; 8°
    About the Author
    Defoe was a prolific novelist, journalist and pamphleteer. His work is notable for its realism, precision and directness of style. Defoe is also recognized as the first author in modern English literature to write ghost stories. –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

    My searches for ECCO titles a while back uncovered wildly different levels of information about POD ECCO books by BiblioLife, but I have not done such an exhaustive search for EEBO books. And in some of these cases I sensed that incomplete information was rather intentional and that there was a degree of deception at work. If an outfit, as BiblioLife seems to be, wants to target scholars, then it is in the interest of both the publishing outfit and the buyer to have the best, most accurate information.

  11. Anna Battigelli Says:

    In this week’s New York Review of Books (Oct. 28, p. 4), Robert Darnton argues for a National Digital Library, making four points regarding its viability (which I present in simplified form):
    1. Google has demonstrated that texts can be digitized
    2. Libraries could provide the necessary texts
    3. Foundations, universities, and other nonprofit organizations could subsidize the project
    4. A given organization could help coordinate the project

    Darnton’s call for such a digitization project seems relevant to this thread on POD texts, in that an entire industry devoted to transforming digitized texts back into print might result from such a plan.

    True, it may be the case that Kindles, IPads, and other e-readers evolve into widely used and workable instruments for sustained study. But if not, POD texts would certainly help us with the reading necessary for engaging with the Republic of Letters, an engagement Darnton eloquently defends. It may be the case that it is the act of reading, not the book, that is in jeopardy. In that sense, POD texts seem helpful.

    There will be an interesting conference, WHY BOOKS, at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute on October 28. Though registration is closed, it would be great to hear from participants about the talks given there. For more on the discussion of Darnton’s idea, which was presented at a conference at Harvard in early October, see Jennifer Howard’s review in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

  12. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Robert Darnton has been talking up the idea of a Natioanl Digital Library quite of bit as of late. The Chronicle‘s Jennifer Howard is one of many who have recently reported on his efforts. Her interview with Darnton focuses on a meeting he convened the weekend of October 2nd with a leaders from “foundations, cultural institutions, and the library and scholarly worlds” to consider how such a project might come about. The good news is that the group felt that funding now exists for undertaking this initiative. It seems that Darnton’s call might result in definitive action.

    Darnton was at the Library of Congress this afternoon, speaking about his Case for Books, a work we covered in a post last November.
    Elsewhere in Washington, DC, Google is hosting a private reception for its first Google Awards at one of the Bus Boys & Poets locations today. Danrton, in his interview with Howard, makes clear that his call for a National Digital Library is “not in the slightest slightest an anti-Google or counter-Google project.” Indeed, Darnton mentions a hope that Google might even be willing to donate its files to such a project. It will be interesting to see if PODs will be the format of choice for a digital libraries or if something else is in the works. Google keeps promising that its Google Editions will be unveiled soon (was last targeted for this summer), but so far, no launching. That these editions will be able to work across reader platforms and be accessible through browsers raises some interesting questions about the next wave of digital texts and e-readers.

    I have heard from a few members of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP) that they will attend “Why Books?” and perhaps one or two would be willing to fill us in about what transpired.

  13. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Above I mention Google Editions, a topic on which I have planned to post a while but have been waiting until there’s more definitive news about its launch.

    Yet, it seems appropriate to mention a few details about Google Editions here. Peter Osnos’s article “What is Google Editions?” is a good place to start.
    As Osnos notes, Google Editions will offer

    millions of digital titles for sale on any device with Internet access: smart phones, tablets, netbooks, desktops, and every digital reading device except Kindle, which for now at least continues to operate on a closed proprietary system. But Google and Amazon are continuing discussions, so that may yet change.

    Titles offered will span a broad range from trade and professional works to out-of-copyright works that will be available for no charge. What, at this point, seems most revolutionary for consumers is the browser-base access to works. The titles readers obtain from Google Editions will reside on Google’s Cloud, that is, its servers, and readers will then be able to access the book from anywhere or any device granting Internet access. “Suppose,” Osnos explains, “you start reading on your iPhone and switch to your tablet or desktop—the book will pick up where you left off.”

    While consumers will be able to purchase titles directly from Google Editions, Osnos sees this newest Google product as performing two key roles: “it will be a storefront selling at prices comparable to those at other major digital retailers. But it also will serve smaller booksellers and publishers who have been unable to fashion their own efficient means of e-book delivery.”

    He and many others are predicting that the launch of Google Editions will result in Google’s becoming “the world’s largest seller of e-books.”

  14. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Eleanor, I look forward to your post on Google Editions.

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