Archive for the ‘Google Editions’ Category

A Digital Public Library of America

March 8, 2011

Robert Darnton has championed the concept of a national digital public library through a series of galvanizing essays in The New York Review of Books.  In October 2010, he convened a community of what Harvard Magazine described as “forty-two leaders of research libraries, major foundations, and national cultural institutions” in Cambridge to discuss strategy for building a digital public library of America.  That same month, Darnton’s opening talk at that conference was published in the New York Review of Books.  His The Library: Three Jeremiads, appeared in NYRB in December, further delineating the complex relation between digital libraries and their brick-and-mortar counterparts.  Details of the conference were published both by Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education and by the Harvard Magazine, which cited Darnton as describing the project as

the digital equivalent of the Library of Congress…bringing millions of books and digitized material in other media within clicking distance of public libraries, high schools, colleges, universities, retirement communities, and any individual with access to the Internet.

Responses to the concept of constructing a national digital public library have been positive.  In December, David Rothman published “Why We Can’t Afford Not to Create a Well-Stocked National Digital Library System” in the Atlantic, arguing that one of the benefits of the project is that it digitizes more than the commercial selections offered by Kindle’s and iPad’s digitization projects: significantly, it digitizes library books.  Referring to a digital public library, Rothman claims it’s a cause

I’ve publicly advocated since 1992 in Computerworld, a 1996 MIT Press information science collection, the Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere, including my national information stimulus plan here in the Fallows blog?

Rothman departs or seems to depart from Darnton, however, over the issue of access.  Rothman wants the digital public library to be a genuine public library, open to all citizens, not simply those affiliated with research libraries.

Details of the plans continue to emerge.  Michael Kelly provides an overview of Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society and its plans for a year of workshops regarding the project in Library Journal.com.  Recently (Feb. 18th), Jennifer Howard again interviewed Darnton for the Chronicle of Higher Education to obtain updates on the progress made by Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society on the Digital Public Library of America.

Now that Oxford and Cambridge are making plans to digitize their backlists, this may be a good time to discuss the benefits and consequences of having a national digital public library.  Will digital books be read?  Do readers need POD (Print-on-Demand) options?  Is this project getting the attention it deserves?

EEBO Editions Now Available Through Amazon

October 10, 2010

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:

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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:
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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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