[SIGCIS-Members] New project to help scholars assess digital components of today’s bookmaking

Matthew Kirschenbaum mkirschenbaum at gmail.com
Thu Nov 2 09:17:00 PDT 2017

In keeping with my remarks in my paper at the Philadelphia meeting, I'd
certainly like to *think* this is computer history, or at least adjacent.
Best, Matt

*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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