Meg VMeg
Thought this was interesting, about how or whether to update digitized/reissued nonfiction books
Specifically: “The information may have changed, but we are not journalists or academics. The book is the book.” - Meg VMeg
This caught my eye, " The book, which went in and out of print over the decades, also kept the case alive for generations of students studying “Genovese Syndrome,” a description of why onlookers turn away from bad events and the diffusion of responsibility." - Stephen Francoeur
Doesn't this get at the heart of what we try to teach students (in the hopes that they'll carry it forward into their "real-world" research after they leave school) about evaluating sources? If it's a nonfiction book that was written X years ago, regardless of whether it's been re-released in digitized form or you find it in the stacks, you want students to be somewhat skeptical/critical of its content and conclusions. Right? I mean, it's still going to have that original publication date of 1968 or whatever on it, even if it's a shiny new e-book, right? - Catherine Pellegrino
We used to fix this problem for folks via judicious weeding. On the Web we kinda don't have that option. So what's next? - RepoRat
And if the publisher updates the book to reflect what is now known about the topic, that undercuts the book's role as a primary source. It now no longer reflects "what was known about the topic in 1968," which could be a valid subject of study in its own right. - Catherine Pellegrino
And yes, we certainly do weed aggressively in my small college library for exactly this reason (I finished the HVs last summer, and hooooooooo boy were there some zingers in there!) but different libraries will weed differently; a research library would have retained many of the books we weeded precisely BECAUSE they were out of date. - Catherine Pellegrino
I think any updating wouldn't affect a book's utility as a primary source. The updating would likely be accomplished by a new forward or preface to the book. - Stephen Francoeur
As a reader, I say NO. You could certainly add a new foreword or preface, and you could add a new--labeled as new--postscript, that might even be as long as the book. But once you update the book, you've negated the ability to read the original. (Or "what Catherine sez"). And yes, I do very much want to be able to read outdated book at times. - walt crawford
I think the depending on whether to weed depends on lots of local factors that can't easily be summed up here. At my college library here in NYC, I can't imagine us weeding the book. I'd also like to think there might be a newer book on the Kitty Genovese murder that we could acquire that would sit right next to the older one. - Stephen Francoeur
And now I see by searching not just my library but all the libraries in CUNY, the books on either side of AM Rosenthal's 1964 book are about other infamous NYC crimes. I don't see any other books right there about Kitty Genovese. There might be, though, others in other call number ranges. Have to check that. - Stephen Francoeur
The article makes it sound like it is cheaper for the publisher to go ahead and digitize, without adding a new foreword/preface (I wonder how often that holds up a reissue of something historical/dated/incorrect?). Which also makes me wonder if that kind of in-book commentary/context will fall by the wayside? What would have been a foreword/preface will become just another response to the book. - Meg VMeg