Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Everyone's talking about Amazon's new full-text book offerings. Writing in Wired, Gary Wolf makes a very Nicholson Baker-like observation:

"We want books to be as accessible and searchable as the Web. On the other hand, we still want them to be books."

Yeah. That's sort of the crux of it, in the humanities in particular. Many of the faculty in the English department want full-text database like EEBO and Early American Imprints (Evans), because, well, they're easy to search and they provide better access to materials that we can currently only get at via clunky web indexes and microfilm reels, or (in the case of Evans), crumbling book indexes and microcard. But overall, monographs are much more important to the humanities, and to the study of literature specifically, than electronic resources are. We spend close to 80% of our overall budget on monographs, which is the opposite of how things play out in the overall library budget, where serials are the Jabba and monographs the hapless dancing girl.

Anyway. This is an interesting project. Crazy. The world sure is changing.

It's late, I got nothing. Going home now.


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