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The E-Sylum (11/17/2013)

Book Content

Ron Abler has published an online draft of his new book on medals and exonumia of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Congratulations! His press release is below. -Editor

Centennial Medals Ron Abler announces the limited-access (invitees only) pre-publication draft of his new iBook, A Cabinet of Centennial Medals: Exploring the Medals of the 1876 Centennial online at He invites E-Sylum subscribers to view the draft book and offer suggestions, additions, corrections, kudos, and criticism through the “Contact” page or at Contributions will be acknowledged in the book as they are received and implemented.

The author gratefully acknowledges the generous assistance of the Central States Numismatic Society, who awarded a significant monetary grant that enabled Ron to purchase needed software for the website, pay for the publication rights to the images of medals in the collection of the American Numismatic Society, and develop a future chat room for the iBook where collectors can collaborate with each other.

Ron plans to share the book at no charge in exchange for the collaborative cooperation of his readers. His goal for A Cabinet of Centennial Medals is to produce, through interactive collaboration with fellow collectors, authors, and dealers, a catalog of Centennial medals (ultimately to include tokens, badges, and other exonumial material) that is as complete, current, and accurate as technology and teamwork can achieve.

Ron defines an iBook (Internet book) as a cross between a simple website and a traditional paper book. It consists of typical website pages such as Home, About this Website, and Contact. In addition, three pages (Introduction, Cabinet, and Appendices) provide access to the book itself, which consists of 29 PDFs (so far) that can be browsed, downloaded, saved, and/or printed, as the reader chooses. Each file is formatted for standard 8 ½ -inch by 11-inch paper. Once printed, the pages can be drilled for a standard three-ring binder or bound in any other manner desired.

Whether accessed on the website or from the reader’s own downloaded files, A Cabinet of Centennial Medals offers a variety of advantages over traditional paper books. First and foremost, it is intended and designed to be a living document maintained in real time by the community of Centennial collectors. Since it is digital, additions and corrections can be made as they are discovered and identified. The numbering system is designed specifically to permit the addition of previously unknown (at least to the author) medals that can be inserted in the correct location without disrupting or disordering previously numbered entries.

Inevitable spelling and grammatical errors will be corrected as they are discovered. Furthermore, the second and subsequent “editions” of an iBook need not wait until a sufficient number of backlogged changes justifies the cost and distribution of a corrected and expanded edition. In order to accommodate the dynamic nature of such an undertaking, Ron will maintain careful configuration management that will track all changes online and in the footer of every page so that readers can decide for themselves whether and when to download revised files and update their own copies of the book.

What better team could Ron hope for than the readers of The E-Sylum?

Centennial Medals Cabinet

Be sure to visit the web site and review the book. It's very nicely laid out, and very well illustrated in full color. This is a great reference that fills a void in U.S. numismatic literature. Please share your thoughts and information to make future editions even more valuable to collectors and researchers.

One thing I would like to see is a future print-on-demand option through something like As much as I live online, I still fear for the longevity of electronic-only works, and would feel better knowing that hardcopies exist in the libraries of many collectors and institutions. -Editor

Ron adds:

My objection to the print-on-demand sites like Lulu is that, while the up-front costs are reasonable compared to underwriting a traditional first-edition print run, many of those costs are charged again every time an author wishes to make a change and “republish.” Print-on-demand does not solve or avoid the underlying drawback of any paper book: it is outdated on the day of its publication, and it is prohibitively expensive to update it. That’s why there are so many valuable and important references that are out of print and never reprinted. Great for bibliomaniacs, but not so good for the rest of the numismatic collecting community.

That said, I realize that many collectors prefer a paper catalog, even if out of date. After all, you couldn’t bring an electronic Sears catalog into the outhouse, could you? I acknowledge also that there is an intrinsic value to a paper book, and my work should be preserved in at least one tangible form. I will definitely consider a Lulu version of the limited-edition that my local printer wants to undertake.

To visit the book's web site, see:

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