[Humanist] 31.413 on the making of books

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Nov 10 09:40:16 CET 2017

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 413.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2017 11:17:21 -0400
        From: Matthew Kirschenbaum <mkirschenbaum at gmail.com>
        Subject: New project to help scholars assess digital components of today’s bookmaking

Books.Files: New project to help scholars assess digital components of
today’s bookmaking

COLLEGE PARK, MD—The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at
the University of Maryland and the Book Industry Study Group are pleased
to announce Books.Files, a new project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon
Foundation to assess the potential for the archival collection and
scholarly study of digital assets associated with today’s trade publishing
and bookmaking.

The fact is that nearly all printed books now begin—and for many practical
purposes end—their lifecycles as digital files that are produced and
managed by designers, editors, publishers, packagers, and printers. The
printed book that we hold in our hands is just one of the outputs that can
be derived from these digital assets, which are also used to produce ebooks
and Web-ready texts. In particular, the role of Adobe InDesign and other
software tools is not well understood outside of the industry. And yet,
this is where the book stops being a manuscript and starts becoming a
book, by way of its transformation into a prescribed set of digital assets
which in addition to the text may include stylesheets, fonts, metadata,
images, and other design elements.

Led by principal investigator Matthew Kirschenbaum, this project
represents the first organized attempt to put ambassadors from the
scholarly communities traditionally invested in safeguarding and studying
the material history of bookmaking into contact and conversation with
thought leaders and influencers from the contemporary publishing world. The
centerpiece of the project will be a convening to bring those figures
together in New York City in early 2018;  Kirschenbaum’s efforts will also
be supported by site visits to observe the bookmaking process as it
unfolds across different settings, and interviews with industry experts.
Findings for scholars, archivists, and publishers will be presented in a white
paper made publicly available in late 2018.

“Digital technologies have forever altered publishing workflows,” commented
BISG executive director Brian O’Leary. “We’re looking forward to working
with Professor Kirschenbaum to explore current practice and its impact on
our ability to preserve content for future generations.” “This project
represents an exciting extension of MITH’s long-standing interest in
preserving born-digital culture,” said Trevor Muñoz, MITH interim
director. “We’re delighted to partner in this effort.” Karla Nielsen,
curator at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, added,
“For a long time publishers' archives weren't collected systematically, but
now scholars are very grateful for the more complete records of earlier
firms that we have, such as those of Cambridge University Press. Research
libraries are just beginning to collect born-digital materials produced by
publishers and this initiative will help us to understand how to do that so
that there is a record of this moment of profound media change.”

The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities is a leading
digital humanities center that pursues disciplinary innovation and
institutional transformation through applied research, public programming,
and educational opportunities. The Book Industry Study Group is the
leading book trade association for standardized  http://bisg.org/store/ best
 http://bisg.org/store/ practices, research  http://bisg.org/page/research
and  http://bisg.org/page/research information, and events. Matthew
Kirschenbaum is Professor of English at the University of Maryland, a past
Guggenheim Fellow, and author most recently of Track Changes: A Literary
History of Word Processing (Harvard UP, 2016).

Inquiries about Books.Files may be sent to Kirschenbaum, mgk at umd.edu
<mgk at umd.edu>.

Matthew Kirschenbaum
Professor of English
Director, Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies
University of Maryland

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