Saturday, December 22, 2012

Medieval Naples

We’re happy to be back after a prolonged season of hard work on other projects. We return with some very good news: the first is that Caroline Bruzelius and William Tronzo’s Medieval Naples: An Architectural & Urban History has received a very good review in The Burlington Magazine. Written by Cordelia Warr, a leading expert in medieval Neapolitan art history, the review covers the content of the volume, its excellent style, its illustrations and its online components: including over 450 color images of the medieval city and its monuments.

Our second piece of good news is that the print edition of Ronald G. Musto’s Medieval Naples: A Documentary History 400–1400 is now in final page proofs. This is a revised and expanded version of the edition launched online in the Kindle and iPad over a year ago. This edition includes new sections edited by Eileen Gardiner on medieval Naples’ literature, hagiography, literate and book culture. It comes in at over 400 pages, contains 81 readings covering all aspects of Neapolitan urban life and culture from c.400 to c.1400, 74 figures, 60 thumbnail images keyed to a map of medieval Naples, a complete Bibliography, index, and a key to external resources, including our Interactive Map of Medieval Naples, our online bibliographies, and our online image galleries. The book should be available in hardcover and paperback in January 2013. A revised and expanded Kindle and iPad edition will follow shortly after that.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Buddhist Hell Now Published

We’re pleased to announce that Eileen Gardiner’s next volume in her Hell-on-Line series, Buddhist Hell, has now been published.

There is a long tradition of Buddhist descriptions of hell, from the second century BCE until the twentieth century, stretching from Iran and India to China and Japan. These descriptions initially relied heavily on Hindu texts but developed their own distinctive features as elements from various cultural traditions were incorporated and as individuals sought to avoid hell by making additions to the text and then distributing copies freely as pious acts.

This anthology includes twenty-two texts, a preface, introduction, glossary, notes and bibliography to provide a comprehensive overview of the nature of Buddhist hell.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Italica Tablet Editions
The figures are in and they’re hard to refute: the age of the handheld and tablet is most definitely with us, and that’s a good thing. About three years ago Italica Press started slowly, and carefully, converting all our titles to the Kindle format for both the Kindle itself and the iPad. By the end of this past Fall all of our titles had become available in these formats. (Please see our Italica Digital Library for current offerings.)

It’s very clear: the digital is here to stay. While digital sales of our titles remain only a percentage of overall book sales (our paperback and hardcover editions are still going strong: many titles have sold well into the five figures and remain in print), the percentage represented by digital sales has grown steadily, and now rapidly. What started off as barely a percentage point just three years ago, now accounts for nearly 30% of Italica Press’s overall book sales, and the numbers keep rising every month.

Why? One reason is their convenience: readers simply make two clicks on their computers and one of our titles — including all introductions, texts, images, notes, bibliographies — is streaming onto their handhelds/tablets, and available on all their devices. Students are particularly attuned to this advantage, especially for course-adoption titles. Another is that that old bugaboo of computer critics — that reading on screen is next to impossible — no longer holds much validity. Using a tablet for reading is as convenient and pleasurable, in many cases even more pleasurable for those of us who like to enlarge the type, than reading most printed editions. The third is price: every Italica Press Kindle edition is now priced at $9.99, and that beats any serious print version there is. It’s a good deal for the reader, and it’s a good deal for us: no manufacturing (no dead trees or toxic inks), no distribution (no wasted gasoline, tarmac and warehouses), and no physical returns to start the process all over again. Texts can be searched and bookmarked, annotated and hyperlinked to external texts and other digital resources. Best of all, a reader can carry dozens — even hundreds — of books around in one small, lightweight device.

True, there are limits to “readability” on these devices: batteries do need to be recharged and all those hours spent with Einstein on the beach do make hard reading. But there are also limits to reading paper: bad type and paper, carrying weight, dim lights and rocky rides on the bus, train or plane, the distractions of the modern home or office, our multitasking lives, badly written and dull books. And there are still limits to good content on these devices. Granted, we can download the latest New York Times bestsellers (fiction or nonfiction) and get hundreds of free, out-of-copyright classics; but few scholarly publishers have yet to make their new titles really available for the handhelds and tablets: either they do not publish for the handhelds/tablets at all, or they impose release-date embargoes on the digital edition, or they charge as much or more for the digital edition. All in all it’s a strategy based on equal measures of fear, uncertainty and the belief that markets are zero-sum games: that the digital will cannibalize the print, and that print is the best, most profitable format for everything.

We’re happy to say that we haven’t found that at Italica. By pricing well, by putting all our titles into the digital as well as print, we’re doing our part to move the digital into realms of serious (if not specialized) humanities publishing. We hope other presses will do the same — especially our colleagues at the university presses and serious commercial houses. They are slowly catching on and up, but until they make that serious, full commitment, you’ll continue to find serious, instructive, entertaining, and well crafted digital (and print) editions thriving here at Italica Press, still well ahead of the curve.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter 2012 Catalog Online

We’ve just posted our complete Winter 2012 catalog as a downloadable PDF document. It contains information on all Italica Press publications, including title, author, ISBN, description, pricing, publication date, shipping weight, cover image, and formats. 
The catalog also contains hyperlinks to title entries on our web site (with complete title information), as well as an order form. The catalog may be viewed on screen or downloaded, printed, e-mailed or mailed to your colleagues or bookbuyers.
Among the many new listings in this year’s catalog are the various editions of Michael A.H. Newth’s translation of  The Song of Roland. These include both hardcover and paperback print editions, a Kindle edition, an audio book, and a special Kindle performance edition.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Medieval Naples: A Documentary History

We are happy to announce the publication of Ronald G. Musto’s Medieval Naples: A Documentary History 400–1400, Historical Texts. This title is one of Italica’s born-digital works and is now offered exclusively on the Kindle platform for both the Kindle itself and other handhelds, such as the iPad, iPhone and iPhone Touch. It incorporates all the texts available until now on the Medieval Naples section of our website and adds a new general introduction to the period, its historiography, and important research and interpretive issues. It will soon also be available in hardcover and paperback editions.
    Medieval Naples, 400–1400: A Documentary History is the first comprehensive and most complete English-language collection of sources yet to treat the history of the city from late Antiquity to the beginnings of the Renaissance. Sources are drawn from the historical, economic, literary, artistic, religious and cultural life from the fall of Rome through the Byzantine, Lombard, Norman, Hohenstaufen and Angevin periods.
    This work takes full advantage of digital resources: hyperlinking to complete bibliographical information on WorldCat, to Italica Press image galleries, to external web resources, including digital archives and manuscript collections, online reference works and images, and to our own online bibliographies and Interactive Map of Medieval Naples.