9.497 e-texts: the role of publishers

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Sun, 28 Jan 1996 13:01:54 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 497.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: "John M. Unsworth" <jmu2m@virginia.edu> (27)
Subject: Re: 9.493 e-text archives

Peter Graham reminds me that I should have specified, in my one-sentence
email, that publishers are a short-term component of the survival of etext
archives: he's correct in saying that libraries are a necessary long-term
one. But I still think publishers are desirable participants in the
process. There are aspects of production, maintenance, marketing,
and management of textual projects that neither individuals nor libraries
will want to do, or will do well, but that still need to be done.
Publishers have traditionally done these things: they still can, but in
many cases they need to be shown the way. I know that most academics
regard publishers as adversaries: nonetheless, we should consider the
alternatives (America Online? Your campus computing organization?).
University presses, especially, are now arriving at the point of being
willing and able to take on electronic projects: we have more to lose, as
does the etext record, from writing them off than we do from considering,
case by case, whether they might have a role to play in our work and its

For some extended discussion of this issue (that contradicts my own view,
in a limited case), see Stevan Harnad's "Subversive Proposal" and the
following discussion, at:


(that URL should all be on one line). For a discussion of the relation
between libraries and publishers in this medium, see Ch. 9 of the Mellon
Report on University Libraries and Scholarly Communication (1992), at:


John Unsworth
http://www.village.virginia.edu/~jmu2m/ jmu2m@virginia.edu