Author: Michael Upshall Page 2 of 3

The Future of Reference Publishing: the Wiley view

A recent ALPSP meeting (February 2015) included a talk about the future of reference publishing.  The speaker, David Hughes, is Editorial Director for Major Works at John Wiley, so he should know.  He stated the major competition to paid-access reference content was Wikipedia. According to …

Tom McArthur, Worlds of Reference (1986)

Tom McArthur’s book is essential reading in the world of reference, although perhaps that is faint praise for a subject that has so few books dedicated to it. However, reading the book is tough going. The author makes it difficult for us to reach the …

The real drama of the Encyclopédie

Le roman vrai de l'Encyclopedie   I’ve been reading about the French Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert, in the lovely illustrated Gallimard Decouvertes volume authored by Francois Moureau, which he entitles Le roman vrai de l’Encyclopédie [ The real novel of the Encyclopedia], first published 1990). The book itself  rather …

Brockhaus dies, and Wikipedia lives

(This post first appeared at in June 2013)

Bertelsmann’s announcement of the closure of Brockhaus encyclopedias (June 2013) is indeed the end of an era. The Brockhaus encyclopedia style was fundamentally different to that of Britannica. While of similar size, its focus was very …

Can Wikipedia prevent paid editing?

Wikipedia terms of use

Astute readers of Wikipedia, or even readers who are half asleep, cannot have failed to notice the prominent notice at the top of every Wikipedia article at present (March 3rd, 2014). Undisclosed paid editing is what Wikipedia is trying to stamp out. The notice states, …

103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates

Everyone remembers the memorable subtitle of Sellar and Yeatman’s 1066 and All That. The two “genuine dates” are of course 55BC and 1066. It was true when the book was written (1930) and today that these are the two most remembered dates in English …

The difference a date makes

We all know what confession means: the Catholic ritual by which sinners gain absolution for their sins, by confessing to a priest.  John Cornwell’s recent history of Confession, The Dark Box (Basic Books, 2014) contains three key dates, very helpfully extracted by John Banville in …

Wikipedia v. a tube of toothpaste

Here is a story about a brand of toothpaste and Wikipedia, and how the brand of toothpaste won.  It is a salutary lesson, not for the toothpaste, but for Wikipedia – except I don’t imagine anyone from Wikipedia has noticed.

The Biographical Dictionary of Film – the book that metamorphosed

The remarkable (and almost accidental) nature of this book was revealed very clearly quite by chance, in David Thomson’s obituary of the publisher Tom Rosenthal, who died in January 2004. In it he described the genesis of the Biographical Dictionary of Film:

I had been

Sartre: an idealist through encyclopedias

Sartre, Les mots, jacket

Here is Jean-Paul Sartre, aged around 10 or 11, sitting in his grandfather’s library and discovering the books there.  At that age, I think I was mainly looking at the pictures. For Sartre, encyclopedias represented something far more significant.…

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