Friday, June 22, 2012

The price of a pamphlet

Early modern book prices are an interesting topic, as the price says a lot about which segments of society could have purchased and read a book. This post is not about early modern book prices, however, but rather a more practical problem: How much will you have to pay for a facsimile of one of those books?

One of the great things about working on early modern topics is that many facsimiles are already free and online, thanks to the digitalization projects linked in the sidebar and many others. But if there's a primary source that's absolutely necessary for your work and not available in another form, you have to contact the library and order a facsimile. The great thing about working with pamphlets is that facsimiles are much cheaper than they would be if you were working on, say, novels, where obtaining a facsimile might require the support of a sizable research grant.

Still, it can be surprising how much prices and processing times differ. My latest facsimile spending spree is drawing to a close. Based on the total price, including both per-scan charges and processing fees, these are the prices I paid per scan.

Library Price/scan Wait (days)
Anonymous UB[1] 0.00 € 2
Dresden SLUB 0.35 € 35
Leipzig UB 0.50 € 14
Wolfenbüttel HAB[2] 0.56 € 68
München BSB 0.71 € 16
Stuttgart WLB 1.00 € 8
Berlin SBPK 1.46 € 36
Anonymous StB[3] 4.38 € 10
Anonymous Benelux SB[4] 17.50 € 21
Anonymous Benelux StB 31.50 € 27

In other words, all the major German libraries are fairly similar. The average price would be different if I had ordered color scans, high-quality TIFs, delivery on CD, or a different number of images. For facsimiles from smaller libraries or outside of Germany, prices can vary considerably.

[1] Yes, one university library just snapped the pictures, sent them to me the next day, and didn't charge me a thing "wegen Geringfügigkeit." I am forever in your debt and will thank you profusely in the acknowledgments.
[2] Estimated waiting time. The invoice came last week, and I'm hoping to receive the images within a week or so. I will still thank you profusely in the acknowledgments.
[3] To be fair, they weren't set up for digitalizations and had to refer me to a local photographer. Their policy on reproduction rights is quite generous, on the other hand, for which I will thank them profusely in the acknowledgments.
[4] Fortunately, I only needed broadsides from these two libraries. The first time I tried to order a pamphlet, the price would have come to nearly 200 €, but the librarian kindly mentioned that the edition I was interested in would be digitalized and freely available online within the week. For that kind assistance, I will thank them profusely in the acknowledgments.

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