9.708 online books?

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Tue, 9 Apr 1996 21:59:27 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 708.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca> (30)
Subject: online books

For a survey I am undertaking, I would appreciate pointers to any scholarly,
refereed online books or monographs, whether published by a commercial press
or not, and any substantial effort by commercial presses to give online
access to books. The term "book" is, I realise, strongly physical in its
etymology, history, and implications. For all sorts of reasons, the
question is open as to whether it makes sense to attempt *book* publication
online at all, except perhaps for reference works, anthologies, and other
highly discontinuous collections. Discussion of this question is welcome
indeed, as is discussion of what we mean by an online "book", but here I am
primarily interested in real examples of online book publication. To keep
my focus, I am ruling out those virtual gatherings of poetry and/or
prose, some of them carelessly done, others with no significant scholarly
imput, that are often known as "electronic books".

Jim O'Donnell's "postprint" of his own book on Cassiodorus is well known,
but are there any other examples of postprinting in his sense?

Are there any examples of items that may arguably be called online "books"
yet that stretch the term by exploiting the medium to do things impossible
or very difficult in paper?

We all know about "electronic books" on CD, among which I suppose we should
include the very fine Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM (OUP) as well as
others that use 3rd-party SGML-aware browsing software, such as the
forthcoming CD of Johnson's Dictionary (Cambridge UP). Arguably, the online
OED2 database viewed with PatMotif and Lector, or via the Web interface
constructed by John Price Wilkin, is an electronic book. As some of you will
know already, I have constructed an online simulation of a electronic-book
CD for my forthcoming reference work to Ovid's Met. (at the URL
http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~mccarty/wlm/Onomasticon/) -- though this is
ONLY a simulation, since the Internet is too slow to make online
distribution practical. Are there any like experiments currently going on?

Many questions! Any answers will be most appreciated and will be compiled
and shared.


Willard McCarty / University of Toronto
mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca / (416) 978-3974