Monday, January 30, 2012

New eBook Series from UNC Press

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 for the Kindle ebook reader, at for the Nook reader, and at Sony's
For more information, visit UNC Press at


The Mortal Wounding of Stonewall Jackson: A UNC Press Civil War Short, Excerpted from Chancellorsville: The Battle and Its Aftermath, edited by Gary W. Gallagher
by Robert K. Krick
ISBN: 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 Memory
by Carol Reardon
ISBN: 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. Rable
ISBN: 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 Mississippi
by Michael B. Ballard
ISBN: 978-0-8078-3621-7; 177 pp., 10 illus., 2 maps, $9.99


The Harry Pfanz Gettysburg Trilogy
Includes Gettysburg: The First Day; Gettysburg: The Second Day; and Gettysburg:  Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill
by Harry W. Pfanz
ISBN: 978-0-8078-7281-9; 1648 pp., $75.00

The Earl J. Hess Fortifications Trilogy
Includes Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War; Trench Warfare Under Grant and Lee; and In the Trenches at Petersburg
by Earl J. Hess
ISBN: 978-0-8078-7282-6; 1216 pp., $60.00

The Shenandoah Valley Campaigns
Includes The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862 and The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864
Edited by Gary W. Gallagher
ISBN: 978-0-8078-7283-3; 696 pp., $40.00


DW@CWBA said...

Ha, we commented on this on our blogs at exactly the same time.

dw said...

Hi Drew. We're tuned in, apparently. You raise an interesting point about needing to reassure readers about precisely what content is being included in the excerpts.

The packaging of multiple books is a really cool, if inevitable, idea.

DW@CWBA said...

Have you heard of any plans to publish Civil War High Commands in eBook format? I seem to recall you mentioning that you worked on the project at Stanford UP.

dw said...


I have not heard anything about doing the Eicher & Eicher book electronically -- I'm not sure how far along Stanford Press is going in that direction (though we were heavily into making backlist books available as Print-on-Demand when I was there). There was also a program underway through Stanford Libraries to scan decades worth of SUP titles -- I presume that's still underway, unless technological advances caused them to change course.

Civil War High Commands would be nice to have in a fully searchable format (I still have original manuscript files that I have used for tailored searches from time to time). SUP has a long list of massive reference works that would be good digital candidates. Another press under the Stanford Libraries umbrella -- Highwire Press -- manages online versions of journals.