For the love of an old book

You might think that we “book digitizers” have little appreciation for the aesthetics of an old book but quite the opposite is true.

Fact is, most of us will disappear for hourswhen given the chance to wander a good, used bookstore.

One of the things I love about old books is leafing through the pages in the back to see the advertisements inserted by the publisher. For example, Lange’s “Lost Volume” of commentary on the Apocrypha (published 1880)contains a list of “Popular and Standard” books published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1879.

Some of the titles and authors that I recognized:

I findthese advertisement pagestoprovide a fascinating, if unscientific, glimpse into themilieu in which the author was writing—what other books and authors were on the scene at the same time.

We don’t include these pages in Logos electronic editions simply because we never have. But I’d be interested in hearing from you…do you find value in things like the publisher’s advertisements from public domain books? Do you think it would be odd or out of place to include these “historical artifacts” in an electronic edition?

I don’t know that we would start including them, I’m just interested in hearing your thoughts!


  1. David Heintzman says

    I’m not sure that I’d find any value in the content of such pages. However, I would be interested in seeing Logos incorporate pictures of such content contained in these old works into the electronic edition. This would be nice in order to get a better ‘feel’ for the way the work was produced. I think pictures of the actual cover, title page, and perhaps the material mentioned at the end would be fascinating.

  2. Photos of pages not digitized would be important to preserve the entire work :) Please make Logos books a complete replacement for the print copy by including all information, including page numbers in ALL resources. :)

  3. Yes, I would like Logos to add everything to the book. After looking at book information provided by Logos, I will sometimes go to Amazon for more information on the author or see who has endorsed the book.

  4. Some out of print volumes might have gone through more than one publisher – so adding the advertisements sort of “attaches” one publisher with a given work. The digital version is effectively a new edition, complete with a new publisher (Logos) – so you should attach your own advertisements page :-).
    However, making the a scan available for download might add to the nostalgia.

  5. Rob Wilson says

    Ref: Daniel’s query, “I find these advertisement pages to provide a fascinating, if unscientific, glimpse into the milieu in which the author was writing—what other books and authors were on the scene at the same time.”
    Yes, I see great value in show those pages! They wouldn’t need proof read – pictures would be even more valuable.
    I have gotten so used to reading on a computer, that even when I can’t get an electronic copy of a book, I frequently scan it. I usually make an Acrobat File (so I can see what it looked like, and a Word File (to quote from, including footnotes).
    Seeing such pages as the advertisements in Lange are like a window to the past. So many of those windows have been destroyed. There is value in preserving them, albeit electronically.
    I doubt such photos could be included in Logos files (the file size would be too great), but Links to a website would work. And you’d get some idea how much interest there is in such pages very quickly.

  6. Dan DeVilder says

    I want the complete work. I feel cheated if deprived, and enriched when accomodated.
    Who can develope a hand held electronic computer that has the feel of an old book (leather cover, weight of “real” book?). How could you develop “pages” that you can “turn” but are filled with electronic text? There has to be some way to combine the feel of the old with the technological advantage of the new. You could have your whole library in one interactive “hardcover” computer handheld.

  7. Wayne Hammel says

    It would be interesting to see what the original print editions of the electronic books looked like. Would it be practical, though? As far as the advertisements are concerned, I think that would be fascinating as well.
    Wayne Hammel

  8. Everything! yes encode or photograph everything. The whole edition, every inch should be included, even the original cover graphic (if any) and the back cover (if any).