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Old 04-17-2007, 01:01 PM   #1
RWood
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Book Conversion - Changing Original Texts

As many of you know I'm converting the Harvard Classics series for the Sony Reader. There will be a few changes from the original -- some legal and some artistic.

On the legal side is the future addition of Project Gutenberg (or others as needed) information. Since I found some of the texts there it is only right that their notices stay in the book. I am creating a section at the back for these notices with its own TOC entry. They did a wonderful job along with PD so there is every reason to give them the credit they earned.

On the artistic side I feel I want to change the chapter titles to mixed case. They style for many years was to set the chapter title in all upper case. I am already altering it from the traditional "CHAPTER I." with the rest of the title following in all upper case but not part of the TOC entry to

Quote:
I. WHICH TREATS OF THE CHARACTER AND PURSUITS OF THE FAMOUS GENTLEMAN DON QUIXOTE OF LA MANCHA
Should this be converted to

Quote:
I. Which Treats of the Character and Pursuits of the Famous Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha
Comments are requested.
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Old 04-17-2007, 01:03 PM   #2
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I like it -- I always feel like I'm being yelled at in all uppercase.
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Old 04-17-2007, 01:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
I like it -- I always feel like I'm being yelled at in all uppercase.
So do I or I would never have mentioned it. However, there may be purists out there (or in here) that feel it would be wrong to change a text for the sake of modern sensibilities. Some might feel that I had bowdlerized the text.
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Old 04-17-2007, 01:27 PM   #4
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Not sure what "bowdlerized the text" means. But I agree with you & Nat. God ahead & "Woodize" the text.
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Old 04-17-2007, 01:32 PM   #5
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bowd·ler·ize (bōd'lə-rīz', boud'-)
tr.v., -ized, -iz·ing, -iz·es.
To remove material that is considered offensive or objectionable from (a book, for example).

[After Thomas Bowdler (1754–1825), who published an expurgated edition of Shakespeare in 1818.]
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Old 04-17-2007, 01:58 PM   #6
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Well, if you start bowdlerizing the actual text, I'd object, but the kinds of changes you are talking about are great. I don't mind the all-caps titles because it seems to make it stand out a bit more, but there's also that "yelling" feeling and it almost reminds me of old technology like it came out of a Teletype machine or something.

But I'm the farthest thing from a purist about formatting, and my primary preference is a clean look, whatever form that takes.

I like the idea of giving PG full credits also. They are a fantastic contributer and they deserve all the PR and credit that comes their way.

...And thanks for the new word, also!
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Old 04-17-2007, 02:02 PM   #7
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FWIW, most of the books I've converted originally had their chapter titles in upper case. I've converted them all (or nearly all) to mixed case.

To my mind, this type of change isn't messing with the text. Different publishers will print the same text with upper or mixed-cased chapter headings, Arabic or Roman numerals for the chapters, etc. That's all that's happening here.


So I'd vote for the "mixed case" too.
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Old 04-17-2007, 02:16 PM   #8
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My vote for mixed case. Definitely easier to read.
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Old 04-17-2007, 08:34 PM   #9
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I totally agree with Title Case as well (it's actually called that). I too feel that all caps is readily screaming at me, I've even seen a few books where the first sentence of each chapter is in all caps. Yikes!

Just curious to clarify if I read what you wrote right (say that five times, really fast!), are you saying that you are keeping in the PG legal scroll, just simply moving it to the back of the book? That actually sounds pretty cool, I hate having to scroll through 15 pages of *stuff* before I get to the meat of the book, though I'd feel like I was breaking a rule if I simply chopped it out (esp. if I was making it available to others).
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Old 04-17-2007, 08:56 PM   #10
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Wink Project Gutenberg Texts Are My First Choice for Source Material

I got to three repeats of "I totally agree with Title case as well" before it turned into "build better rubber baby buggy bumpers."

I moved the PG text to the back of the book (where most of it is on the more recently released texts) and gave it a chapter title of its own. There is no reason not to include the material as it does not increase the cost of production as it might if the books were printed on paper and no one should believe that I scanned all of the texts and OCRed the lot. I also added another chapter title after that for ebook production methods that has the notices about BookDesigner and the LRS to LRF conversion tool. Both of these changes/additions are in the just posted Harvard Classics Volume 14, Don Quixote.

I did change the title case to mixed and feel that it is a better read for that change.

I agree with Bob and the other posters (in other threads) that PG is a wonderful resource that we are lucky to have. When I use a text from them I want to credit it to them. Some of the texts I acquired from other sources had no PG mention in them (although I cannot say that they did not take the PG text and remove the PG information from it nor can I say that they did.) However when looking at two seemingly equal texts for the same material, I will generally tend to go with the PG version as I know it has been proofread by people who care about the material. This gives an extra measure of confidence to the reader that he or she is reading a good version of the text.
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:11 AM   #11
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Generally I leave the title text as it is (lc or uc,) but that's more out of my own laziness than any desire. I'd have no moral problems adjusting it. And I, too, intend to leave all the PG front and back matter in, but shift any PG-inserted front matter to the back of the text. I've been giving it the title, "Original File Front Matter."
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaughingVulcan
Generally I leave the title text as it is (lc or uc,) but that's more out of my own laziness than any desire. I'd have no moral problems adjusting it. And I, too, intend to leave all the PG front and back matter in, but shift any PG-inserted front matter to the back of the text. I've been giving it the title, "Original File Front Matter."
If the book was just for me and a one time read, I agree it would be easier to just leave the case as it is. Since I am formatting the Harvard Classics series I feel I owe the readers a good experience with the books. The slight extra effort on my part may result in many having a more enjoyable time in the future as these are posted here at MobileRead for all to download. (Yes, that was a shameless plug.)
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Old 04-18-2007, 10:12 AM   #13
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i say change 'em. i'll read almost anything except something in french. make it look good not like a musty old tomb that's been in the ground or on the shelf for a thousand years
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Old 04-18-2007, 01:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RWood
Should this be converted to ...
This is the kind of decision an editor will face, and you probably will have to make up your own mind about it.

I think that your first duty (as an editor or publisher) is to your readers (well, OK, make it the second): any changes you make in the text should be based on that: does the text become more readable or more legible?

The next duty is towards the text: you don't rewrite it (much) just to get around some problem you have.

Gutenberg texts are tricky: the older texts have already passed through a similar kind of process, except that it was driven largely by other assumptions: one of those seems to have been that the original text isn't 'good' anyway, so mix and match between different editions if you like; foreign script and accents can be dropped or rendered in ASCII without further consideration, and there is no reason to pay any attention to any differences between plain text, italic text and small caps. (I admit I'm overstating the case. But I'm in a hurry.)

The text you mentioned may have been all upper case, or mixed upper and small caps, or even italics. All those would produce plain upper case text in a (older) Gutenberg text.

Personally, I would probably use italics, provided that I could be assured that the typeface actually used for final rendering produces an reasonably good text on screen. Otherwise I would choose plain text in the way you suggested yourself; text in all uppercase (even mixed upper and small caps) is difficult to read, and should be reserved for very short passages.

More modern Gutenberg texts (from the DP project) can be found in HTML format, which allows for italics. Sometimes it's better to start from those
to avoid the ALL-CAPS-RESTITUTION problem.
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