Where to find what you'll need

Who tricks, misleads, defrauds and lies to you, how and why.

Where to find what you'll need

Postby meteorite » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:04 pm

I'm hoping that, over the days to come, I will be able to create my discussion on the tools of verbal deception, with particular emphasis on political speech, though corporate may also be covered. In setting up the discussion, I shall be recommending certain books, magazines, reference sources and indexes. Many of these will not be susceptible to linking, for reasons such as lack of an accessible URL. Others may be available but accessible only behind a paywall with rates geared to long-term corporate users. So you will ask, OK, it's there, but how do I get at it?

I'll assume you know how to use Google, but take some time to familiarize yourself with their database of books which can be read online. Fundamentally they will show you only selected parts of books under copyright, unless the rights holder has volunteered to allow copying, as some have. Public domain works (copyright expired) can be shown in their entirety. But there are many other sources of books online - try www.bartleby.com, or the Gutenberg Project, www.gutenberg.org which is adding about five e-books a day to the 38,000 or so it already has.

But the first source you should try should be the library. Notice I do not specify which library. For instance, if you are a graduate of any accredited university, your local university or college will almost always offer you at least limited access to their collection and various of their facilities. Remember organizations often have their own on-site reference collections which visitors may browse. If looking for a specialist in their subject areas in Toronto, for instance, one might look in the Bata Shoe Museum, the Gardiner Ceramics Museum, perhaps the Royal Military Institute (currently rebuilding) and similar specialized collections.

In Toronto we are favoured with one of the world's great library systems. They even have a system that allows you to borrow new books, in e-book form, for a specified time (like they disappear from your reader two weeks after downloading). But they also offer online access to almost every service or journal they subscribe to.

This is incredibly important, because long before there was Google, or even public computers, there were two giant database producers in New York City selling the information needed by book users around the world. They were the R.R.Bowker Co. and the H.W.Wilson co. For anyone who has every taken the Circle Line tour around Manhattan Island, The Wilson building over looks the East River on the starboard side, and is the building with the lighthouse on top. It's been a landmark for the best part of a century.

R.R.Bowker got its first foothold by going around to "all" the publishers each year and getting copies of their trade lists. These were the annual catalogs of what they had in their warehouses for sale, and what they had forthcoming. Bowker then assembled them alphabetically by publisher and bound them into annual volumes, The Publishers' Trade List Annual, which booksellers found so convenient they were more than happy to buy them. But of course unless you knew who the publisher might be, you could be in for a lot of digging before you found the listing for the book you were after. And you might want to know how many editions there were of, say, Alice in Wonderland, or Hamlet, and what each cost.

So Bowker obliged by publishing books in print, subtitled "an index to the publishers' trade list annual", which not only sold to booksellers but also was bought by libraries and anyone else who had cause to order books in quantity. there was even an annual "subject guide to books in print", which was less popular as it was a very big book and very expensive. now the PTLA is no more, while Books In Print and the Subject Guide come as software and/or online databases. The book trade survives on them. Bowker also has many other reference books and magazines, such as Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, but they are not relevant here. But fundamentally (there are qualifications) if you want to know if you can go into a Chapters or Barnes & Noble, or go online with Indigo or Amazon, Books in Print will tell you if they can get the book for you and a good idea of what it will cost. If you have only an authors name, or a title, and need to verify information about a book, go to www.loc.gov which is the Library of Congress website. Every publication registered for copyright in the United States must have at least two copies deposited in the Library of Congress, and catalogued into its collection. Basically if you can't find it there, what you are looking for likely doesn't exist, at least in the English language.

Back in your high school days you almost certainly had a teacher who assigned you to find a magazine article using the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature. Or perhaps you had to find out about someone in the news using Current Biography. If you were at a more advanced level you might have ended up consulting something like the Applied Science and Technology Index - there were dozens of these spread over all sorts of subject fields, though you wouldn't have encountered most till university. In all of these cases you would be using one of the Wilson Indexes, published by our aforementioned friends in the Bronx. And once again, when it comes to the popular ones, and at the university level many of the more specialized ones, a good public or university library will have a licence that lets its patrons connect with and search the databases.

Once you know what you want, you can borrow it or buy it. If a good library does not have the book you want, they have means to find out where a copy is held, and borrow it for you via Interlibrary Loan. If a periodical article is wanted, many of the more advanced journals exist online only, allowing subscribers to download and print out what they require. Many libraries, especially t the university level, will have these subscriptions and help you get what you need.

But what if the title you want is out of print, and you want to buy it? Then you must turn to the antiquarian (or if you want to be less highfalutin') used book trade. It is very well organized and very accessible. Booksellers worldwide have grouped together on websites like Canada's www.abebooks.com, or www.alibris.com. Each catalogues each book for sale, sets a price and shipping charge, while you order from ABE or ALibris. Amazon.com has a division where they sell online books, including listing private sales on which they take a commission. There are huge booksellers offshore, like the famous B.H.Blackwell Co. in Oxford, England, or Foley's in London, or www.powells.com in Portland, Oregon - and those are just random samples. I won't say they can come up with anything every published - but when I had occasion years ago to seek a book printed in a limited edition of 550 copies, in the year 1688, I was promptly offered two copies.

I have only sketched out the framework of a very complex subject here, but the bottom line is this: if I or anyone else suggest some item of printed information, it can be hunted down and a copy obtained, at moderate to no cost, within a reasonable timeline, with intelligent use of the tools I've outlined. And if they don't work. ask a librarian. That will.
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