On Mon, 22 Mar 2010 14:15:09 -0400, Aaron Kuperman wrote:
>There's one publisher who frequently republishes government documents (though unless you want them online, they may not be convenient to acquire otherwise). I try to include a note connecting the reprints to the originals, but other catalogers focus on just what is on the title page (which pretends that they aren't reprints).
>On Mon, 22 Mar 2010, Vogel, John L wrote:
[The originals are online, thereby saving almost $200]
In a print culture services such as these may have had at least some kind of reason for existing: although they may have made far too much money, they at least helped make public domain documents more accessible. Today, there is less and less purpose to this type of function and must now be recognized as almost useless and practically a scam.
Of course, this situation is not limited only to government documents, but all materials in the public domain and now through Creative Commons, which is a huge and growing area. So long as digital documents are too uncomfortable to read as they are, they will be printed out, consequently adding a binding makes them more useful, and that keeps these sorts of businesses on the horizon, but the moment ebook readers become popular, all that will change. (If it hasn't completely changed already because of the costs involved in this economic climate)
The publishers will want to continue as before: to charge $200 or so for what really will be nothing, and I think it will become part of the job of catalogers to show what is really available to our users. This will conflict with the publishers' intentions though, since their bread and butter will be to make sure people are not aware of these other versions. Retailers such as Amazon won't be interested in steering people to these versions either, since they will want a piece of the action as well. I can't predict how a company such as Google will play into this.
We need tools that will make the task of finding textual copies much easier and efficient, perhaps a type of "Turnitin.com" for catalogers, which will try to find different versions, or using web search engines, perhaps Google Books, and other innovative tools, to seek out textual copies easily and quickly.