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Interesting: Provenance of eBooks

This is a bit off-topic, but so interesting that I couldn’t resist mentioning it. James Moushon did a little investigation into the absence of basic provenance information in eBooks and what he discovered was not encouraging. He discovered that almost none of the eBooks he examined had any indication of “where the book’s content originated from or how we got to the digital format.” He asks, rhetorically, how we will be able to accurately cite eBooks and differentiate between editions.

  • eBook Publishers: Are eBook Copyright Pages Missing Information?, by James Moushon, The Self-Publishing Review (February 15, 2011).

    I picked 30 ebooks and analyzed their copyright pages. Somebody must have missed the memo about what information is required and what format it should be presented in because we had a variety of formats and information, to say the least. Although 30 ebooks is not a very big sample, only one of them came close to what is needed to ID the source.

I have always been sensitive to this issue because, for years, I dealt with numeric social science data files and they were seldom adequately cited in the literature — partly because the necessary information was not easy to obtain or identify. As we move to a more and more born-digital world for all information, we mustn’t overlook the basics that we took for granted in the paper and ink world. Alas, as publishers seek to subsume all the roles of producer, distributor, and “library” (the term some of them use for their role as long-term gate-keeper and access-regulator), they don’t always keep these little details in mind….

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