Report on the Ninth Year

January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2007


Date: January 31, 2008

To: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

From: Robert B. Townsend, Assistant Director

RE: Gutenberg-e annual report for 2007

With just a few months remaining until the end of the grant and our final report, we will keep this brief. Over the past twelve months four new monographs have been published in the project, and all of the remaining manuscripts have been submitted and are now in copyediting and production. Some books will only reach final publication after the term of the grant runs out, but any remaining expenses will be covered by the Columbia University Library.

Developments in the Project

As of November 2007, the electronic monographs published by Columbia University Press in the Gutenberg-e Project were made available in an open-access form through the University’s Libraries, and are also being made available through ACLS Humanities E-Book (HEB). By taking this new step, we will continue the project’s ongoing experiment with different forms of electronic publication, and also hope to demonstrate whether open-access publications will garner greater use and more citations from students and scholars.

The two sites will offer distinct benefits and experiences. The open-access books published by the Press will represent the authors’ specific vision for their publications, within the template of the project. As reported in the past, the books made available through this site will incorporate a range of different approaches to their subject—some incorporating a more open, non-linear narrative style , while others add a range and depth of multi-media and archival supplementary materials.

In comparison, the books published in the Humanities E-Book collection, while offering the same content, will be more deeply integrated into the related scholarship for their subject, incorporating online reviews and the author’s related historiography for each title on the HEB site. Searches within the E-Book project will allow readers to see the Gutenbeg-e books either as a distinct series or in a larger scholarly context. Since the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation started both Gutenberg-e and the Humanities E-Book projects in 1999 to experiment with different models of online publication in history, it now seems natural to bring these two projects together.

We hope that making the books available in these two new forms promotes increased interest, attention, and use in the academy. One of the great concerns for this project has been the seeming reluctance or inability of many scholarly journals to review these online publications. Fortunately, authors who have come up for tenure have received it, despite sometimes limited numbers of reviews. But since the traditional networks of scholarly legitimization seem unable or unwilling to handle these books, we hope this switch to open access will circumvent that problem by making the works more discoverable by interested students and scholars. At the same time, Columbia University Press continues to pursue book reviews for the publications, features the titles in their catalogs, and will also include them in their new web site, which will be unveiled shortly.

The AHA also continues to publicize the project through a variety of “free media” such as the AHA web site and blog, and the May issue of the Association’s newsmagazine Perspectives featured an article discussing the authors’ perceptions about the effects of the prize and electronic publication on their professional development.


As the statement of expenses shows, we disbursed most of the remaining funds as projected. The final bill from Columbia University Press was received and processed early in the new year, so that is shown as an expense in the first quarter of this year on the spreadsheet. Aside from that, the only significant expense remaining is for 11 of the remaining authors to clear the final hurdle (approval of the final copyedited manuscript) to receive their final payments.

As per our discussion in January of last year, we still expect to close the books on the project on March 31 of the current year, and submit a final report summarizing our final assessment of the project.