Review of “Electronic Scholarly Editions” by Kenneth Price


As this seminar draw to a close the importance of Ken Price’s article Electronic Scholarly Editions in A Companion to Digital Literary Studies cannot be neglected. Price examines the usefulness of the electronic edition in this article. In doing so Price gives an outline of the term electronic edition. He then continues by examining the advantages and disadvantages of the electronic edition and attempts to forecast the future of the electronic edition.

Firstly, Price establishes that an ‘electronic edition’ is part of a wider initiative ‘electronic archives’, he gives the example of the Walt Whitman Archive, which he is involved in.

The Walt Whitman Archive utilises everything that is attractive in electronic editions. Especially the ability to move beyond the limitations of the page. The website consists of Whitman’s works, images of the original copies of the works as well as type-written reconstructions so that the texts are legible to people that have difficulty with the penmanship of others.

Walt Whitman 1872

Walt Whitman 1872

As well as Whitman’s own works the website gives links to critical essays which have been written around Whitman and his writings. If this is not expanding the limitations of the page the use of audio readings and pictures, which would be excluded from printed collections of Whitman’s works because of the inability to include them or due to high costs, should prove otherwise. A biographical section allows users to learn more about the author. Meanwhile, the ‘About’ section informs the readers about the aims of the website. Price’s argument is that there is so much more that can be included in electronic editions than paper editions.

Prices article focuses on the prospects of the electronic edition, of which there are many examples: NINES, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Jstor and Project Muse etc. all of which contain academic journals or digitised works of prestigious writers. These websites are a benefit to the scholarly world. They are available at any given time, with out the constraints of library rules and times. The biggest benefit to academics and scholars is that the period of waiting; the time that it takes for journals to be published in print is decreased. As well as benefits such as decreased cost and increased ability to include more in the electronic edition than in the paper.

However, with these advantages come disadvantages. There is a fear that the more advanced electronic editions and archives become the more adept and technology users will have to become. Price fears that the edition will lose its scholarly aspect because more people are handling the text and it is changed and edited to fit the electronic edition.

Advancements in the ebook industry have lead to greater uptake of the ebook, not only as an academic of scholarly resource, but for the ordinary reader too. In an issue “The Cork News“, an article entitled “Mercier embrace ebook technology” caught my eye because of the caption

“2011 is going to be the year of the ebook” – Clodagh Feehan, Managing Director, Mercier Press.

The Article highlights just how the ebook has incorporated itself into the every day lives of readers and scholars. Mercier is Ireland’s oldest Independent publishing house, they focus mainly on historical publications but do publish other genres too, and now they are breaking into the ebook community.

The article reminded me of Price, it shows how the ebook has advanced and developed from the use of ebooks for academic and scholarly use to use for any kind of reading. Ebooks are becoming increasingly more available on ebook readers like ‘Kindle’ and computer – websites dedicated to online publishing as the Personal Project section of this blog focuses on. Other examples of how ebooks are being embraced can my found in the Research section.

While Price’s article is relevant to the use of ebooks the advantages and disadvantages are should be considered in the making and use of ebooks as resources. However the hope, as ebooks become more widespread, is that the kinks and worries will become less prominent as the industry is developed.


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