By Rudolf Schmid

Published as: Schmid, R. 2003. A lament about increasingly bibliographically vague title pages, or their versos. Taxon 52: 651-652. Aug.

My editorial life used to be much simpler in the old pre-Internet, pre-globalization days when title pages bore more meaningful contents. The year of publication, for instance, was habitually noted on the title page, but the date is now increasingly relegated to the title-page verso, often being included there in minuscule, hard-to-locate type much smaller than for the ISBN. This is becoming a major irritant in life, although it does not rank up there yet with barking dogs, yakking cell-phone users, or those darn stick-on codes (i.e., PLU codes, for product/price look-up, introduced in 1988--see www.plucodes.com). that have to be peeled laboriously from each apple or peach before one can eat it (because I compost, I also peel the labels from orange and banana peels that I do not eat). Sometimes the book omits the date completely (e.g., see elsewhere in this column the entry for Gusman & Gusman*). While that would make a work truly timeless, I hope this is not a trend. And what is one to think when different year dates appear on the title page and its verso (e.g., see entry for Gregory et al.*).

The city of publication has also proliferated from one to sometimes very many. Even the venerable Timber Press has gone international on its title pages, to "Portland, Cambridge." My solution is simply to list the first city. If a publisher in Hicksville desires the cachet of a major or capital city, it should move to that city so it supersedes the hick town.

What has ticked me off and caused this comment, indeed what has been a festering thought since a certain review in Taxon 52: 163-164 (everyone now turn to those pages), is the tendency to omit notation of a new or revised edition on the title page and to relegate this fact to its verso (e.g., see elsewhere in this column the entries for Beidleman & Kozloff, Lusby & Wright, and Richards*), or, much worse, to omit the edition information from the title-page verso and bury it someplace in the book proper (e.g., the book reviewed in Taxon 52: 163-164). Ideally, the cover, spine, or dust jacket should also note the new edition, but exemplifying the lack of this is territory I will not get into. Furthermore, as I pleaded on Taxon 52: 164 (now everyone will turn to that page), the new edition should have a precise numerical designation such as "2nd edition" or "3rd edition," rather than the vaguer "new edition" or "revised edition," which leaves one to wonder exactly what there might be in the bibliographic twilight zone.

* = reference is to entries in the August 2003 "Reviews and notices of publications" column of Taxon: International journal of plant taxonomy, phylogeny and evolution

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Last revised: January 2004