The Carcanet Collection

The Exact Editions platform is now working with book publishers to license collections of books as digital resources for universities, colleges, schools and other institutional libraries. Carcanet has been one of the leading English language publishers of this generation and the Carcanet Collection has just been launched as an annual subscription resource. The collection starts with 70 titles and will grow to over 100 in the course of 2017. Institutions that subscribe will have multi-user, site wide access to all the books, with new titles joining the collection as they are published during the year. Each month there will be a few titles from the Collection available for open and free reading throughout the month, and many of the new titles will be show-cased in this way.


A double-page spread from Peake: Complete Nonsense

Carcanet’s books meet the highest standards of typography and design, so they are well suited to the Exact Editions platform which:

(1) shows books exactly as they are printed

(2) ensures that each book and the collection as a whole is searchable

(3) ensures that each page is cite-able (via a permanent url), bookmark-able, and shareable via social media

(4) runs across all the major computing platforms: web browsers and apps for mobile and tablet devices.

These were all compelling reasons for launching books for institutions on the Exact Editions platform, but we have also made the decision to offer the books for annual subscriptions as Collections, and it is worth looking at some of our reasons for this choice:

(1) it seems that digital editions, when considered as teaching or scholarly resources have particular value when presented in groups. We will be working with publishers who want their books to be seen as part of a group, so that different topics, or related subjects and treatments can be seen together. Digital editions have special advantages in that they can be searched, compared, assigned and cited very efficiently because they come to the user in the same grouping. The availability of the ‘group’ across the campus to multiple users is especially strong; with physical books and some copy-protected ebooks the fact that one book is being used in one part of the library makes it un-usable to a reader who has another book from the same series open on her desk.

(2) in many cases the ‘collection’ is an easier entity for the library system to acquire (important!), service, integrate and deploy to readers. Also, if the collection is appropriate, the books really do have a group value, the resource is worth more than the sum of its parts.

(3) we also think that in many cases, with the biggest delivery platforms, where thousands of books or tens of thousand of books are delivered together, the advantages of smaller groupings and collections are being lost. Massive aggregations are not particularly attractive or friendly to the reader who wishes to study a much smaller sub-group.

(4) the collections will be publisher-specific (we have no plans to offer multi-publisher collections) and we think that this grouping, and the branding that goes with it has very many advantages for publishers. Especially smaller publishers with strong and coherent lists. Carcanet is an excellent example of a publisher with a list where most of the titles it publishes will be of interest to any library or institution with a strength in modern poetry and literary studies.

On these last two points. It is not clear that there is an ‘ideal’ size for a collection of books. There almost certainly is not, but our initial preference will be for collections of scores or hundreds of books. There are exceptions to this of course and publishers of Collected Works should give thought to the advantages of the Exact Editions platform for delivering such collections into the academy. If a publisher wishes to deliver and site license a collected edition of the works of Franz KafkaDavid Hume or Karl Marx, we would be happy to facilitate this offering. We are working with a variety of publishers, all of whom have lists of books that are interest to major libraries, though none of them are (as yet) exclusively ‘research publishers’. There are many publishers in this category and we have some very fine collections lined up to appear in the first quarter of 2017.

Promoting by free access

For the second month we are working with Carcanet to promote their wonderful poetry list by providing temporary free access to ten of their new books, throughout November. These are all for sale as perpetual access resources from Exact Editions, along with 60 other titles.

Exact Editions is able to provide publishers with an opportunity to make titles freely available for a limited period, because the platform provides users with access to a service. The technology is not driven by a system of file down-loads – unlike, for example, PDF files or ebook systems, where the whole book is downloaded to a user’s device before being fired up locally through a reading app. Because the whole book has to be downloaded and installed if a PDF file or a Kindle-file is to be read, it is not really practicable to promote these platforms temporarily.

That is an important advantage that many publishers will appreciate. But there are some other features which come in to their own when Exact Editions is used to provide an evaluation service:

  • Individual pages can be directly cited through their URL (see this poem Marriage by William Letford)
  • Each page looks exactly as it was printed. This matters so much for poetry.
  • The books and their lovely front covers can be tweeted or shared via social media.


Carcanet poetry in November

Ten poetry books from Carcanet are available for free reading and evaluation through the Exact Editions web site for the month of November.


The list comprises:

The Alexandra Sequence — John Redmond

Beyond the Barbed Wire: Selected Poems — Abdellatif Laabi

Dirt — William Letford

John Masefield — Muriel Spark

The Met Office Advises Caution — Rebecca Watts

Playing the Octopus — Mary O’Malley

Quennets — Philip Terry

What Must Happen — Jeffrey Wainwright

The Windows of Graceland — Martina Evans

Winter Migrants — Tom Pickard

These are beautiful books full of arresting poetry from some of our freshest voices. Each page is linkable, and here are three poems that struck me with their power and wit:

All alcoholics are charmers  ….that is if they are any good.

Jetsam / Flotsam …Grounds for debate/ by windswept committees/ of sharp-eyed gulls

MISS SYNCOPATION …so, she said,/ stripped/ and slipping into bed,/ do you have a copy/ of machiavelli’s/ the prince,/ then?



Current Publishing Release 3 New Digital Titles

Current Publishing has released three new titles – Current Archaeology, Current World Archaeology, and Military History Monthly– each with a full digital archive.

Current Archaeology is the oldest of the three titles, with its archive dating all the way back to March 1967. Although it is now the UK’s leading (and best-selling) archaeology magazine, Issue 1 of the magazine was mailed free of charge to university academics and archaeologists! Readers began to subscribe from Issue 2, and Current Archaeology now has more than 17,000 subscribers worldwide.

Current Archaeology aims to bridge the gap between amateurs and professionals in archaeology. For 40 years Current Archaeology has been visiting the digs, talking to excavators, and reviewing the literature, to keep its readers up to date with Archaeological news. Its articles are written by archaeologists, and then edited to ensure that the content is accessible to all readers.

To subscribe to Current Archaeology, please click here.

Institutions please click here.


Current World Archaeology was launched in 2003 as the sister magazine to Current Archaeology. This publication covers world archaeology from the first emergence of man, up until present day, looking at areas from around the globe, including Egypt, Mesopotamia, Classical Greece and Rome, as well as Asia and the Far East. The magazine reports on news from around the world, covering the latest digs and discoveries.

To subscribe to Current World Archaeology, please click here.

Institutions please click here.


Military History Monthly was first launched in September 2010 as Military Times, with its name changed to Military History Monthly in November 2011. The magazine aims to bring military battles to life, with action-packed narrative and historical detail. Military History Monthly tells the stories of war heroes, both celebrated and forgotten, lifting the veil on war, and cutting through historical propaganda, to get the truth of what really happened.

To subscribe to Military History Monthly, please click here.

Institutions please click here.




Institutions as a market for digital magazines


The earliest issues of the magazine Geographical

available at

Consumer magazines are a primary form of social history. For much of the 19th century, and especially the 20th century, consumer magazines became the most widespread and the most vivid form of popular culture. From the high end elite magazines Scientific American, Vogue, Punch to the merely but gloriously popular mass market Ladies Home Journal, Hello or Readers Digest, these titles — and many more — are continuing resources of great interest to scholars and students. Apart from the intrinsic importance of their content (eg Vogue for fashion, Gramophone for recorded classical music, and Scientific American for science) their historical and social value comes from the depth and continuity of publication. When produced in the form of a properly searchable and referencable archive they become resources for which universities have a strong and continuing demand. This is an area for profitable exploitation and brand development which big brand magazines should seize. There are many magazines that will have a profitable and ongoing market if they are offered to universities and corporate libraries as a properly packaged archival resource. This may be especially important for magazines that decide that their future lies in e-commerce, events or branded content. Anchoring the quality of the heritage, which we do by building a complete and accurate archive,  is important as the marketeers turn over a new leaf.

Exact Editions has been developing this revenue stream in conjunction with our publishing partners and it may be useful to summarise some of the key factors that generate demand and value. In the last 6 months we have launched complete archives with:

Geographical  944 issues since May 1935

Opera 804 issues since Feb 1950

and Crafts 254 issues since March 1973

In the case of all these projects, we established at an early stage, with the publisher, that their consumer magazines are of deep interest to university and public libraries. The publishers already knew this as the current subscription lists were well populated with institutional subscribers. What the publishers did not already know was that these subscribers would in some cases value a digital version much more highly. Big libraries will have substantial back runs, in some cases complete archives of many popular magazines in print form. The universities and public libraries bought these magazines and carry on subscribing to them because they are great information sources for the fields they cover. For example, nearly 1700 libraries of the OCLC library consortium have subscriptions or back issues of Geographical on their shelves. So establishing that there really will be a demand for a digital archive is an important step before investing perhaps $10,000-50,000 in developing the full product.

The second point to note is that these print issues, and especially print back-runs with fraying paper and perhaps some gaps in coverage (issues get mislaid even in the best run library) are almost useless in today’s research environment. Libraries are looking to replace their print repositories with digital assets. A big magazine archive with 1000-10,000 back issues has to be searchable if it is to be useful. And it has to be searchable and usable across campus by as many researchers of students who have need of it. Magazine publishers are used to the idea of selling digital access to individuals (eg with a password and a user name), but this highly rationed form of access is practically useless for the library networks. Digital consumer magazines have to be sold on a site-license basis if they are to be bought by modern research universities. There is a compensating advantage: librarians are thoroughly used to the idea that a resource for 25,000+ end users is going to cost more than one licensed for use by one individual subscriber. A digital magazine with its archive sold on a site license basis to a large university can easily command a annual price 40 or 50 times the cost of an individual subscription. And it will be good value if it is relevant.

A third requirement which may not be obvious to the publisher of a consumer magazine, is that everything in the magazine counts for the scholarly researcher. For some titles the advertisements are even more important than the editorial contents! One of the key requirements for resources which are to be used in teaching or research is that all the content should be easily and consistently citable. It is also essential that students who may be working with diverse devices (computer, tablet, mobile phone) can be sure that they are ‘seeing the same thing’, exactly as it was published, and it is essential that their teachers be able to point them to exactly the right thing. Teaching, referencing and citations become very murky if there is no way of checking or confirming that users are working from the same content. This is perhaps an obvious requirement, but it is surprising how poorly many digital magazines formats fail at this hurdle. A Flash implementation is certainly no good (many devices not supporting Flash) even responsive designs or re-flowable magazine apps fail on this test. Libraries will also be very reluctant to subscribe to content packages which miss out key elements of the publication. Many magazines have built web sites that capture all the articles that have appeared in the magazine over a period of time, but these web solutions are usually non-standard, give no reliable guidance as to the exact place of the original article (date, name, byline, page, context etc) and worst of all these home-grown databases usually omit the original advertisements that were in the print magazine. For many research purposes, the advertisements that appear in magazines over the years are of fundamental interest.

These are some of the key requirements that we have noticed at Exact Editions as we sell magazine subscriptions to universities and research libraries, but it is also important that the publisher or the aggregator with which the publisher collaborates, makes sure that the delivered service meets the demands of the library market: off-campus access, user statistics, meta-data, support and above all reliable delivery to all the IP addresses on the campus network. The library market has strong expectations of its suppliers, and the most brilliant content will be ignored if it fails to meet these demands.


Front covers for Crafts magazine