Thursday, January 13, 2005

University of California Press Puts 400 Books Online, free

I'm not 100% sure I see what's in it for them to make 400 books available to the general public, completely free. (Thanks, Bookish) But there will be time enough for analysis later. In the short run, I'm celebrating, passing it on, and hoping other presses will follow suit.

Here are some of the titles that interested me (not that I have time to actually read through many of them in the week before classes start). The books at the top of the list are generally books I've read parts of already:

Indian Traffic: Identities in Question in Colonial and Postcolonial India by Parama Roy

Nets of Awareness: Urdu Poetry and Its Critics by Frances Pritchett

A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity by Daniel Boyarin

At the Heart of the Empire: Indians and the Colonial Encounter in Late-Victorian Britain

The Irish Ulysses by Maria Tymoczko

J.M Coetzee: South Africa and the Politics of Writing by David Attwell

The Travels of Dean Mahomet:
An Eighteenth-Century Journey through India
by Dean Mahomet (!)

The Magic Mountain: Hill Stations and the British Raj

Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia

Arabs and Young Turks: Ottomanism, Arabism, and Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, 1908–1918

A Nation of Empire: The Ottoman Legacy of Turkish Modernity

Behind the Scenes: Yeats, Horniman, and the Struggle for the Abbey Theatre

The Boundaries of Humanity: Humans, Animals, Machines

Caste and Capitalism in Colonial India: The Nattukottai Chettiars

Divine Passions: The Social Construction of Emotion in India

The Wrestler's Body: Identity and Ideology in North India

The French Revolution and the Birth of Modernity

Freud and His Critics

Hysteria Beyond Freud


Rob Breymaier said...

WOW! This is great. Althoug, my guess is that these books are already available in a large number of libraries and/or don't sell a lot of copies anymore. Still, this is a nice moment for free information.

10:39 AM  
ME-L said...

Information wants to be free! This is a great "Long Tail" strategy. Too bad I can only d/l one chapter at a time though.

11:46 AM  
Amardeep said...

Mike (MEL),

"Long tail strategy" -- at first I didn't know what you meant. But then I googled, and saw it defined at Steve Rubel's blog.

If we presume they are doing this with some commercial motive in mind, digitizing might widen the general readership and awareness of the press. It won't help them get their new books bought by libraries (it might even hurt). But it might get some non-academic niche readers and independent scholars interested in what they are putting out. If I were California Press, I would be putting text ads on the 'free pages' that would link to new California Press books on related subjects.

But it's also possible that they are doing this under the rhetorical banner of the Public Interest: scholarly materials should be widely available as a matter of principle, and no profit motive is involved.

As for the idea that all information wants to be free, I think that's a little utopian. There are different kinds of information...

12:14 PM  
ME-L said...

Well by only showing a chapter at a time, they're making it easy to read, but harder to download and share. So it's sort of like having the book in the library or a bookstore to browse, encouraging you to buy the thing.

Having worked in a couple of academic presses, though, I'm inclined to agree with your take that there's a certain idealism going on here -- let's get these books out there since they don't sell, that sort of thing.

12:36 PM  
Manorama said...

This is awesome. I'm especially happy to see the Antoinette Burton book with its chapter on Ramabai :) Thanks for sharing this!

4:05 PM  
bitchphd said...

That is so freaking cool.

9:34 PM  
PhDiva said...

Amardeep, do not overlook The Life of A Text by Philip Lutgendorf. One of the best scholarly books i have ever read.

2:53 AM  

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