ECCO Texts and Print-on-Demand Possibilities

Posted in books, resources, teaching resources by Editor on June 20, 2011

While working on an article related to William Cowper’s Myotomia Reformata, I recently discovered that I could purchase a paperback copy for less than $25 at Amazon or Alibris. I was surprised but guessed that these copies were the remainders from a recent printing of the 1724 text. In fact, however, they are the result of a print-on-demand initiative. Here’s the description from Alibris:

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As noted at EMOB, the covers of these new paperbacks do not come from the original books, and in this instance, the selection is hardly ideal. I'm not sure if the editor, Dr. Richard Mead, would be angry, appalled, or merely amused.

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. Medical theory and practice of the 1700s developed rapidly, as is evidenced by the extensive collection, which includes descriptions of diseases, their conditions, and treatments. Books on science and technology, agriculture, military technology, natural philosophy, even cookbooks, are all contained here.++++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 LibraryT132919Titlepage in red and black. Edited by Richard Mead, assisted by Joseph Tanner, James Jurin and Henry Pemberton. Large paper issue.London: printed for Robert Knaplock, and William and John Innys; and Jacob Tonson, 1724. [12],
lxxvii, [1],194p., plates: ill.; 2.

Condition: New
Publisher: Gale Ecco, Print Editions
Date published: 2010
ISBN-13: 9781140985778
ISBN: 1140985779

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An online search quickly turned up a fine discussion of the issue — not surprisingly — at Early Modern Online Bibliography. Eleanor Shevlin wrote a thoughtful posting on the subject last August, which has thus far occasioned 27 responses. The posting nicely lays out the potential advantages and drawbacks. Most objections relate to concerns over bibliographic completeness and uniformity. I’ve not yet looked to see what the art offerings might look like, but for anyone looking to incorporate primary sources into the classroom, this could be useful. I’ve included below a comment on the posting from Scott Dawson (24 August 2010) that clarifies some of these issues, but by all means have a look at the full discussion at EMOB. -CH. (more…)

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