The Monster of Scholarly Consumerism: Frankenstein and Monetizing the Public Domain.

In looking at the public domain edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we see how Google Books displays traits of both innovative and inheritance methodology. The limited accessibility of the multiple editions and their subsequent specifications is only accessible to the scholar willing to pay for such access. Duguid’s characteristics of innovative and inheritance technologies ultimately highlight the ways in which resources like Google Books seek to monetize admittance into the public domain.
The edition scanned into the Google Archives originated from the Princeton University Library; the text is a direct scan of The Cornhill Publishing Company’s 1922 edition. With it’s inclusion of the parenthesized clarification of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly as “Mrs. Percy Bysshe Shelley,” the reader might conclude this version was published prior to the revival in Mary Shelley as an influential feminist figure (given the need to be associated with her more well-known husband).  Unlike many scholarly editions now in circulation, this edition of the text cuts not only any introductory essays, but also disregards including either Percy or Mary’s prefaces. Furthermore, the previous divisions of the novel into three sections (that mark the three volumes the novel was originally published in) aren’’t included; instead, the chapters are listed as one cohesive, linear progression without any breaks.DuGuid faces a similar phenomena when examining Tristan Shanty, in which Laurence Sterne’s divisions and preceding blank pages are not included in the scan.As a direct scan, the book has obviously avoided reformatting. No errors or quality issues are present in the scan, with the little color included (as seen in the stamps and titles) preserved. The clear preservation of the text highlights Google books as an inheritance technology in which the actual physical quality of the text includes no added features outside of the internet; namely, no hypertext links or interactive features within the text itself make the work anything more promising than Princeton University library could offer.
Google Books’ ability to search the text for keywords and scroll format are the only qualities that mark it as an innovative method of study. The search bar allows users to browse the text for pages where a certain phrase occurs. Instead of having to manually flip through hundreds of pages to locate a certain term, the standard internet technology of the search bar allows both the scholar and the casual reader to locate a term within seconds.
This ability to search also applies more generally to the inquiry of multiple editions of the book; as a public domain text, Frankenstein has dozens of editions catalogued in the Google Books archive with the more recent publications containing copy written material allowing the guest user to merely be able to preview the text. Interestingly enough, while both the 1831 and 1818 editions of the text are under public domain and are included in the archive, the only fully accessible version is the former 1831 edition.
The ability of Google Books to include many versions of a public domain text such as Frankenstein, make it a fantastic resource for the scholar and collector. The limited regard, however, for the plurality of a diverse text that includes multiple editions, supplemental material and divisions are not accounted for. In some ways, Google Books is very much a consumer tool rather than a scholarly resource in which gains can only be made through what the viewer is willing to pay for convenience.

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