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Re: Gutenberg-e

I asked Columbia's director if he would like to respond, and he 
has, as follows:

Dear Ann Okerson:

My post was meant to question the characterization in the 
original Chronicle article that the Press had "radically 
restructured" Gutenberg-e to take it open access.  The 
implication, at least to me, was that we had abandoned the 
subscription model rather than moving the project to the more 
successful subscription-based Humanities eBook database.  I did 
not want to leave the impression that we felt open access would 
in the long run better serve the authors' ambitions for having 
their work read, used, and reviewed. The best we can say is that 
we do not know.

Some time ago we recognized that the subscription site for 
Gutenberg-e was simply not drawing the traffic we expected and 
needed for the project to be sustained.  So with the success of 
the ACLS project, it made much more sense to combine these 
projects with theirs.  The Gutenberg-e authors are better served 
by having their work discoverable in that much larger and more 
widely used database, and linked to the deep resources available 
there.  Both sites will eventually contain the complete works and 
we will continue to promote the availability of these projects in 
both places through advertising, press releases, and outreach to 
journal editors.

I am certain the Columbia Library is committed to maintaining the 
Open Access site but I defer to my colleague Kate Wittenberg on 
questions relating to that site and its functionality.

Jim Jordan  3/6/08

>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