The University of North Carolina Press -- one of the premier publishers of Civil War titles -- has launched a new digital inititive involving electronic excerpts of various titles. It will be interesting to learn how this new program works out for them. It's not a new idea, exactly, but seems pretty bold and far-thinking for the staid and conservative world of university presses.
UNC's Marketing Director, Dino Battista, asserted in a press release that the press is "confident that after reading one of these Civil War Shorts, the reader will want more, and be drawn to the fuller treatment in the original work." That's quite possible, though I wonder if this model will apply to history texts in the same way that students might wish to purchase only the assigned parts of an expensive textbook. A lot of Civil War book buyers, it seems to me, are commonly adding to their personal library, not conducting research or studying for a final. That reader -- it seems to me -- may be unlikely to spend $7.99 to read 177 pages of Michael Ballards excellent book on Vicksburg, for example, when he or she can get all 512 pages for $25.00.
On the other hand, important and riveting excerpts from massive volumes may be just what the doctor ordered for people who wish to get right to the heart of the matter, or who are content to focus on one free-standing section of the larger story (e.g., the wounding and death of Stonewall Jackson). I love my Kindle, and my iPad, and have purchased a number of electronic versions of books for which I already have a copy on the shelf -- strictly for the convenience of not carrying around heavy books. I could envision loading up the Kindle with "E-book Shorts" in preparation for traveling and battlefield visits. There is a lot of value in portabillity. Costs for these initial "shorts" run from $2.99 through $9.99.
In addition to offering the Shorts, UNC is also packaging multiple eBooks together in what it's calling Omnibus E-books. Offering up all three Harry Pfanz Gettysburg books in a single e-book is a stroke of genius.
From the UNC Press announcement:
"At UNC Press, we pride ourselves on publishing campaign studies that take into account the larger contexts in which Civil War battles were fought. But as we developed our program of E-book Shorts, we were pleased to discover within those longer works tightly written narratives of the battles themselves that work very well as standalone books," said UNC Press Civil War editor David Perry, who worked with the authors on the original publication of the full books.
"Today's advances in digital content delivery give us great flexibility in how we deliver our content to readers. The E-book Shorts format, delivering readable and engaging accounts of the key battles and other critical moments in the Civil War, is the perfect way to reach new readers for our books," said Dino Battista, the Press's Senior Director of Marketing.
UNC Press Civil War Shorts and Omnibus E-Books are available from Amazon.com for the Kindle ebook reader, at BarnesandNoble.com for the Nook reader, and at Sony's ebookstore.sony.com.
For more information, visit UNC Press at www.uncpressebookshorts.com.
UNC PRESS CIVIL WAR SHORTS
The Mortal Wounding of Stonewall Jackson: A UNC Press Civil War Short, Excerpted from Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath, edited by Gary W. Gallagherby Robert K. KrickISBN: 978-0-8078-37108; 38 pp., 6 illus., 2 maps, $2.99
On Pickett's Charge: A UNC Press Civil War Short, Excerpted from Pickett's Charge in History and Memoryby Carol ReardonISBN: 978-0-8078-3620-0;74 pp., $6.99
The Battle of Fredericksburg: A UNC Press Civil War Short, Excerpted from Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!by George C. RableISBN: 978-0-8078-3622-4; 332 pp., 5 illus., 6 maps, $9.99
The Battle of Vicksburg: A UNC Press Civil War Short, Excerpted from Vicksburg: The Campaign that Opened the Mississippiby Michael B. BallardISBN: 978-0-8078-3621-7; 177 pp., 10 illus., 2 maps, $9.99
The Harry Pfanz Gettysburg TrilogyIncludes Gettysburg: The First Day; Gettysburg: The Second Day; and Gettysburg: Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hillby Harry W. PfanzISBN: 978-0-8078-7281-9; 1648 pp., $75.00
The Earl J. Hess Fortifications TrilogyIncludes Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War; Trench Warfare Under Grant and Lee; and In the Trenches at Petersburgby Earl J. HessISBN: 978-0-8078-7282-6; 1216 pp., $60.00
The Shenandoah Valley CampaignsIncludes The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862 and The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864Edited by Gary W. GallagherISBN: 978-0-8078-7283-3; 696 pp., $40.00