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.

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From previous posts you may remember me as the product manager for ECCO, Burney and a number of the other Gale Digital Collections. I am also the Gale point person for our print on demand project with BiblioLife. Here is a summary of our partnership and at least some responses to points raised in this string.

Gale has entered into an agreement with BiblioLife to produce Print on Demand versions of the works from the Gale Digital Collections, starting with the Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) and Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Part II. BiblioLife was chosen after a lengthy review and selection process due to their expertise in this type of historical monographs. BiblioLife has begun processing material from ECCO and there are currently over 117,000 titles available. These works are available for purchase in the price range of $12.50 – $62.50, depending on the size of the work, with the largest and most expensive books being nearly 1,000 pages.

Currently there are only paperback editions available, but hard covers may be added at a future date. A great differentiator in our ECCO Print Editions data is that we have captured volume data for these books and and passed that on to the retail channels (Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many, many others). . . .

At this point, each volume of a multi-volume set is sold individually, but we are looking at ways to ‘bundle’ them together at a slightly discounted price. We are also looking at ways to implement appropriate discounts if a professor chooses a work for use in the classroom.

We also captured all the data fields we had in our ECCO bibliographic data and combined that for the record that displays in the retail sales channels. We did this in the interest of increasing the chance of edition identification (this includes notes, ESTC IDS and other helpful information you will see in the book description).

These print editions may be found through most online book stores (Amazon, BN.com, etc.) and can also be purchased at most bookstores as they are part of the Ingram iPage database. They are also available through NASCORP, a university bookstore wholesaler. As with the ECCO database, what is provided are facsimiles of the actual work, not the OCR’d text, so the reader will have a similar experience as to reading the original 18th century editions.

As these books are sold, Gale will pay royalties to the libraries from which we scanned the work, similar to our system for digital databases (like ECCO). After we have completed the works from ECCO, we will look at uploading works from our other digital collections. More on those at a later date.

Yes, BiblioLife is run by people that were previously at BookSurge, though this is not the reason that these works are sold through Amazon. We make books available through Amazon because that is where people go to buy books, plain and simple. Per my comments above, they are also available through a wide variety of other sites which is one of the main reasons for us having chosen BiblioLife.

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