Wednesday, 10 April 2013

On the birth of a new website

The pregnancy is over. The conception was nine months ago, and I have been observing the slow but steady progress of the foetal website ever since. Yesterday and today saw its birth - two days because of the time it takes for the server to point everything in the new direction. This post is the equivalent of a birth announcement, except there is no gender or weight. You will find the baby here.

And also a response to a few correspondents who have asked me why a new site was needed. The motivation was actually the idea which became the Crystal Books Project, a feature of the new site. I am frequently asked for ways of obtaining some of my books which have gone out of print, and there was no easy solution. So the CBP is a way of solving that problem. The intention is to make available, in electronic form, my out-of-print back list. It will take a while for them all to get up there, because in the case of the older books they have to be rekeyed. No convenient electronic files in the 1960s – or even the 80s. Indeed, in the case of one of my books, published in 1976, I see that my first draft is entirely in handwriting – something I find inconceivable now!

The first few books are now available, in e-book form, and will shortly also be available as pdfs and as print-on-demand copies. The publishing firm that has provided the platform for the website, Librios, is exploring the best options as I write. Four e-books are now ready: the two Language A-to-Z books for schools (student and teacher book), which went out of print about 15 years ago; the Penguin book Language Play, which went o/p in the UK somewhere around 2005; and Words on Words, the anthology of language quotations, which went o/p at more or less the same time. All have a search function added, in their e-book incarnations.

There is a complete bibliogaphical listing of books and articles on the new website, as there was on the old one, but with better search facilities. One can now order searches by title or by publication date. And there is a more sophisticated range of filters – for example, one can search for Shakespeare + books, or Shakespeare + articles, and so on. We’ll be refining the filter list in the light of experience.

You’ll notice that most of the articles are downloadable. The ones that aren’t are those I don’t have a copy of. So, if anyone ‘out there’ notices a missing download and realises they have a copy of it, would they let me know? We can then arrange a way of getting the text online?

And with a new website comes new e-publishing opportunities. I haven’t used the medium in this way myself yet, but I do have in mind some projects which simply would not work in traditional publishing terms, but which would suit an electronic medium. More on this in due course. In the meantime, Hilary Crystal has chosen e-publication for her first children’s novel, The Memors, and that is available on the site too. This is a techno-fantasy tale aimed chiefly at that awkward-to-write-for group, the 10-14-year-olds, or tweenagers, as they are so often called these days. This is very much an experiment on our part. For it to work, the news of the new product needs to travel. So, if readers of this blog have tweenage contacts, do tell them about it.


Rebecca said...

The new site is beautiful! Thank you so much for all your efforts in making your out-of-print publications available again. What a marvelous resource!

Ian Holder said...

Oh my! What a wonderful site, and overflowing with linguistic goodness.

I doubt unless I quit my job and never leave my bedroom I'll get to all you have there, but -- as Rebecca commented -- thank you for making your all of this available for your fans and fellow lovers of language.

JWL said...

Hi David
Congratulations on your new website.
I tried the Shakespeare Glossary which did well for 'makeless' and 'leese' tho I'd've liked the pronunciation eg whether /s/ or /z/ in the last, and especially at 'barren which has to be "barĖˆraine" at
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves (Sonnet 12 When I do count the clock...)
Many treasures for investigation!
Best wishes
PS"Infonation" a typo?

DC said...

I'm currently working on a parallel book to Shakespeare's Words, a dictionary of original pronunciation, but this won't be out until the end of 2015.

Infonation is not a typo. It was the broadcast production arm of the Information Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Richard Redmond said...

Haha, I love how you likened the development and launch of a website to pregnancy. I think a lot of people do tend to underestimate just how long it takes to put up a good website with exceptional content and aesthetic allure. It definitely takes a lot of time, patience and effort. A good website doesn't take only a day to go up. I hope the new website has seen lots of visitors already!