Archive for the ‘BiblioLIfe’ Category

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.

Gale’s ECCO and BiblioLife: Print-on-Demand Initiatives

August 12, 2010

While recently searching abebooks for works by a particular eighteenth-century publisher whose titles I collect, I discovered a number of ECCO editions of his works available in “BRAND NEW COPIES”. Several titles offered the following additional information:

Description:
Brand New Book with Free Worldwide Delivery ***** Print on Demand *****
Editorial Reviews:
Synopsis:
The 18th century was a wealth of knowledge, exploration and rapidly growing technology and expanding record-keeping made possible by advances in the printing press. In its determination to preserve the century of revolution, Gale initiated a revolution of its own: digitization of epic proportions to preserve these invaluable works in the largest archive of its kind. Now for the first time these high-quality digital copies of original 18th century manuscripts are available in print, making them highly accessible to libraries, undergraduate students, and independent scholars.
Western literary study flows out of eighteenth-century works by Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Frances Burney, Denis Diderot, Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and others. Experience the birth of the modern novel, or compare the development of language using dictionaries and grammar discourses.
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Curious about whether Gale was aware that a company was reproducing and selling their copies, I wrote Scott Dawson. He replied,

We are working with a print-on-demand vendor by the name of BiblioLife in Charleston, SC, to do this work. We have most of the ECCO works loaded into the system if our contract with the source library provides us POD rights. We are looking to add titles from some of our other collections over time. We looked at a number of ‘vendors’ for this work and decided on BiblioLife that specializes in these “long-tail books’ and have been quite happy with them. Note that the cover will not be the same as the actual as we have not captured the actual covers, so it is a graphic that corresponds to the general subject area from which the book came (history, philosophy, religion, etc.) along with a portion of the title.

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Especially for those who lack access to ECCO, this development seems in some ways a welcomed one. The cost of the late eighteenth-century works that my search had yielded seem to average just below $25.00. Yet, more browsing reveal a range from $9.66 to $72.00. The high range prices seemed to be mostly for Bibles, and the same title can range a few dollars more or less depending on the bookseller. There of course is also often shipping charges. Scott’s comments about the cover are also clearly noted in the listing for most of these books. Yet, in the case of the titles I was searching for, it was not clear at all in most listings what volume of the series one would be purchasing or what individual titles were contained in the work being sold. Consider this note:

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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Bodleian Library (Oxford)

P006358

Volume title page, for issues to be bound together when a volume of serialized fiction is completed, follows the wrapper title in the last weekly issue of the novels for that volume. Volume title pages are engraved, with volume numbers, a list of works included in that volume, with a vignette above the imprint. An internal title page for the individual work is bound in the first weekly issue of the novel being serialized, and title page imprint includes year of publication for that novel. Imprints lack date; years of publication from reference sources. Imprints vary slightly. Weekly issue price: six-pence. At head of wrapper title: To be continued weekly. With frontis. plates in each issue for that novel. Some wrappers carry instructions to the binder for placement of plates. Includes serialized novels, histories, romances, or memoirs, including translations of foreign publications. Works are normally completed in three or four issues; volumes apparently appear three or four times a year. Description based on: [Vol. XII.] Number CLXXXIV. [1783]; title from wrapper.

London [England] : printed for Harrison and Co. No. 18, Paternoster- Row, and sold by all other booksellers, stationers and newscarriers, in town and country, . v., plates ; 23 cm (8°)

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This note, evidently reproduced from the ESTC description of the series, clearly does not identify a particular volume and could suggest to some the very unlikely possibility that by paying $25.00 one would receive the complete series (that is, 23 volumes, containing over 60 individual novels). These descriptions, I should note, seem to be provided by the bookseller selling the title, and not by Gale.

Also troublesome is the description that accompanies other listings:

Synopsis:
This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR’d book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. More…that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.

Here we have no mention that the copies are twice-removed from the original book, having been digitized from microfilm.

I also investigated BiblioLife. Its home page presents a commendable view of the company as one dedicated to preservation and working with libraries, archivists, and those engaged in digitization projects. There’s also an indication that part of the purchase price would be put toward helping fund digitization efforts: “We have a vision that paying customers can fund the digitization of the world’s books and we think libraries are anchors of any healthy and vibrant community. And in this digital age, they serve an important role as a physical meeting place of culture. We think this program can further that vision.”

Yet, I did not see BiblioLife listed as the publishing partner with Gale in any of the abebook listings I viewed. However, I did see Nabu Press identified as the publisher in a few listings, and a search for this company uncovered an interesting blog post from an information technology professional, Yakov Shafranovich that indicates that Nabu Press is BiblioLife:

I took some time to check various state corporation databases and actually managed to find who Nabu Press is. They are … BiblioBazaar / BiblioLife, a company started by former BookSurge partners after they sold their POD company to Amazon. It is no surprise that they print their POD books through Amazon.
How do I know this – take a look at the SC filing for Nabu Press LLC…Nabu Press = BiblioBazaar

Shafranovich’s sleuthing is further confirmed by an April 2010 Publisher’s Weekly article“BiblioBazaar: How a Company Produces 272,930 Books A Year”. The article reinforces aspects of BiblioLife’s website description of its efforts and philosophy:

While e-books, iPads and Kindles have dominated the headlines, BiblioLife is one of a handful of smart, new, technology-enabled companies driving an exciting trend in the publishing world. Working closely with libraries, archives and aggregators, the company puts out-of-copyright books back into good old-fashioned print, one copy at a time, using print-on-demand technology.

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And it also helps explain why we have not heard of the firm before:

So how has Bibliolife, despite its major production, flown under the radar until this year’s Bowker stats came out? For one, Davis says, the company simply isn’t seeking publicity as much as good solid relationships and content partnerships. “We aren’t a press release-centric company, and we are really focused on unique materials that are not part of mass digitization projects,” he said. “Who has that content and how we are getting it is something that is a competitive advantage.”

As Scott’s comments about POD rights and BiblioLife president Mitchell Davis’s remarks about content indicate, there’s much food for thought here about access and control of these reproductions of reproductions…of reproductions. Moreover, the listings offered again point to the importance of understanding what is really being offered and sold.


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