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Recent news postings in Library Journal and the Chronicle of Higher Education tell a somewhat confusing story about Gutenberg-e, the online series publishing worthy books by younger historians. Begun under the leadership of Robert Darnton when he was President of the American Historical Association, it was grant-funded and published by Columbia University Press. As near as one can tell, the sequence of events is something as follows:

1. Nearing completion of its funded run of publications, frustrated that the series was getting few subscription customers and little recognition for scholarly content, Columbia Press negotiated to have the series become part of the Humanities E-Books project led by ACLS. The Humanities E-Book site lists twenty titles in the series and at present offers access to 6 of them. This is a subscription series, typically paid for by institutional (library) subscriptions. All the articles and releases cited below seem to agree that the fundamental business model of the series was not working.

2. On 1 November 2007, volumes in the series were also made available for open access through the project's own site, www.gutenberg-e.org. Twenty-three titles are available there, with "Open Access Terms and Conditions" rather heavier on restrictions on use (e.g., one printed copy only per user, no multiple copies) than one associates with OA projects. The page bears a Columbia University Press copyright

3. On February 12, 2008, the American Historical Association issued a press release entitled "Gutenberg-e Books Now Available Open Access and through ACLS Humanities E-Book". Deep in the press release, Robert Townsend of AHA expressed concern that the series had not been financially successful.

4. At the end of February, both LJ and CHE published articles emphasizing the new open access, but containing some indication of the financial challenges the series had faced. In response, the director of Columbia University Press, Jim Jordan, wrote a cryptic blog entry http://www.cupblog.org/?p=99 in which he sought to clarify some facts of the case, somewhat distancing himself from the open access version of the project, which he reports as hosted by the Columbia libraries.

5. The Columbia University Libraries website does not make it easy to find the Gutenberg-e titles. The one time I succeeded in finding a page (yesterday: going back to write this note I was unable to locate it), the page was clearly marked as a subscription-only series accessible on the site only to Columbia users. However, a Google search does find a free site.

I'd welcome any clarification and corrections of this outline of the facts I've been able to uncover. Will all the titles of Gutenberg-e be included in the Humanities E-Book series? Will the open access version continue indefinitely? Are the two versions identical? How should we best represent these titles in our online catalogues?

Ann Okerson
Yale Library