Monday, June 01, 2009
Hey Kids! Free Plato Book! And you can help me make it better!
Yes, it is true! Visit the official book site. You can view the whole thing via Issuu.com, which has a very nice Flash-based reader: minimal and elegant but full-featured. And/or download the PDF for offline reading.
Want to see a neat trick? I can embed the book, like so.
Then you just click to turn the page (illegible at this size) or click to open and read in full-screen mode. It’s a very nice viewer they’ve got. Or I could make the embed open on a particular page, so when I’m blogging about a passage while teaching, I can just point the kids to the page in question. Or open the book itself onscreen in class and zoom so it’s readable. Neat, I call it.
The full book title (some would say: over-full): Reason and Persuasion, Three Dialogues by Plato: Euthyphro, Meno and Republic book I, with commentary and illustrations by John Holbo and translations by Belle Waring. It will be out in print by mid-August. The version that is up right now is actually the final draft - so far as I can tell. But I still have a week-and-a-bit to catch any last typos or mistakes. (I have a terrible suspicion that the Stephanus pages may have shifted a bit during the last edit. Gotta check that. How tedious, but oh-so-necessary.) I hope there aren’t any major problems with the book still, at this point. But if there are - well, I will do my best to make needed changes. So if you would like to volunteer your services as proofreader/last minute reviewer/critic, you are most welcome.
Not pre-publication peer-review. Not old-fashioned post-publication review. Perinatal peer-review. (Socrates always said he was a midwife. So I assume he would approve.)
The book is published by Pearson Asia (that’s a story in itself) and will be available in paperback by mid-August. They’ve been bringing out nice, inexpensive draft versions for my students in Singapore (that’s why I have an Asian publisher.) For this first general release I insisted on extending the deal I had insisted on for my own classroom use: I reserve the e-rights and so have a free hand to try manner of cool free e-stuff. I’m hoping one reward for my virtuous ways will be that some folks will want to adopt the book for classroom use. (Free e-availability is a big pedagogic bonus, I think.) And will then see to it that copies of the book are in school bookstores, so Pearson (and I) get paid a little. That seems fair.
OK, that’s all for now. If you want to talk Plato, please come on over to the book site. (And link! Please link! And help me edit the book, last minute, if you wouldn’t mind.) But it might be fun to chat about e-publishing in academia in this thread. If you are inclined. Doesn’t this sort of thing make a lot of sense. whatever you think of my particular book? I say it does.
I remember oh, back at the beginning of the Valve, when you and sometimes other people were writing about all these books you were going to make. From my minimal experience with putting together one thing for LuLu.com, I thought you were crazy, and that it involved a huge amount of work. Is it actually getting any more doable as you get experience?
Hey rich. It involves a huge amount of work. It isn’t getting a lot more doable. I’ve been buried under edits on this one for months. But it’s actually sort of a special case. No one ever dreamed that a lavishly illustrated, painstakingly laid-out 400 page book on Plato would be easy. Still, it is possible to make things that are a lot nicer - accessible, user-friends - than they were a few years ago. I think my book is a good model in lots of ways, even it if isn’t an easy model to follow exactly.
Well, I was going to offer to minimally proofread it, but I got buried under work. If it’s still being worked on, I may have more time now.
Plato lectured extensively at the Academy, and wrote on many philosophical issues. It’s very good to hear about Free Plato Book.