Thursday, 6 October 2011

Vampire book, unearthed

While trawling through Amazon.co.uk, I found a book I'd never heard of before: Camillo Di Cicco's Female vampire during the Middle-Ages. Its page doesn't give a publication date, but the book search lists 'Kindle Edition - 29 Sep 2011'.

I recognised the accompanying image as the famous Lazzaretto Nuovo 'vampire'. While I disagree with Di Cicco's findings—'During the Middle Ages, the lack of scientific knowledge of plague determined the frantic search by the populace of "carriers" of the disease', 'Therefore, those of them who died uttering a stream of blood from the mouth (hemoptysis), a feature also of the pneumonic form of plague, were considered "vampire."'1—I acknowledge the book's coverage of magia postuma, a niche subject invaluable to vampire studies.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a paperback version of the book on Amazon (I don't own a Kindle), so I decided to do a little more searching. I turned up Di Cicco's profile, which shows his venereology and dermatology expertise. Nothing on folklore, though.

Lulu
I did, however, turn up the book's Lulu page. Unfortunately, that, too, was in an ebook format ('PDF for Adobe Digital Editions'), but it at least gave pagination, which was not included in the book's Amazon listing did not: 50. It's also been around longer ('May 16, 2011') than the Kindle edition, but most interestingly, it's actually a second edition. How'd the first escape my attention? I've e-mailed the book's author to see whether there'll be a print version of the book available.

You see, as much as I recommend online resources like the Internet Archive and Google Books, nothing beats print format. I think publishing books only in ebook form is a big mistake. I've noticed they tend to 'disappear' after a while (where's the first edition of Di Cicco's book?), depriving future generations—and the present one—of material

Sure, I recommend online books, but those books have print copies as 'back-up'. What 'back-up' do ebooks have? Which library houses them? What common accessibility points do they have besides purchasing a copy for personal use or finding a pirated version? Once they're gone, they're gone.

My concern is that authors are becoming too reliant on distributing their works in ebook format. While these might be more convenient and comparatively cheaper, it also means that their work will be deprived of the greatest attribute print media has: longevity. Sure, books don't last forever, they're certainly more durable than online media. My recommendation is that authors at least offer a POD option to help ensure their work isn't lost to the mists of time and 'broken' links.



1. I disagree, because vampirism, in the sense being described here, did not occur during the Middle Ages.

2 comments:

Dave Baymiller said...

Agreed, there's nothing like the feel of real pages beneath your hands and to look at the books lined up on a shelf. With that said: I get a lot of use out of my kindle. It's just so portable. Amazon has lierally hundreds of classics free on their kindle store. Quite a bit of free vamp fiction: Dracula, Varney, etc. Many of their pay books are only a couple of bucks. I try to get physical copies of the books I want most, but the free kindle versions do give me access to reading I wouldn't otherwise have. There are free kindle readers for download out there so you can use them on a regular computer/laptop, etc. Another kindle bonus is that you can email a pdf or word doc it will auto-format it to the kindle format and deliver it wireless to your kindle. I've found a number of essays and posts online, including some of yours, that I've put on a word doc, sent it in, and now have it on my kindle for reverence.

Anthony Hogg said...

True, there's the aesthetic value to consider, but from an academic standpoint, it's the preservation of the material I find most important.

I can see the value in Kindle, et. al. It's not that I'm against it, per se, more the move away from print media to electronic media. They should should complement each other, not supersede.

I'm flattered that you've stored away some of my posts, though. Thanks. :)

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