The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 14, Number 3, January 16, 2011, Article 14


Scott Barman's been busy. In his Coin Collector's Blog this week, he asks, "Where Are the Electronic Numismatic Books?" It's a great article - click on the link below to read the whole thing. Here's an excerpt of particular interest to the E-Sylum crowd. -Editor

The future of content consumption is electronic. E-book readers will support the reading of books, magazines, newspaper, and some online content on a small handheld device conveniently sized for reading. They are designed to do one thing very well: provide you a way to read published content in a more convenient manner and without killing trees. While tablet and smart phones are more general devices, both have the ability for you to read published works when you are not playing the current hot game or social networking. All of these devices have programs that can tap into online bookstores so that you can buy books at a reduced price and have it loaded directly onto your device to read.

E-book readers can read many different format files, but the type used for the best reading experience is based on the concept of "electronic paper." Electronic paper allows the reader to resize, bookmark, type notes, highlight, and do anything to an electronic page except fold it while maintaining the integrity of the book. As the read changes size or add their own notes, electronic paper allows the book to reflow, or repaginate, within the device. When a book or document is repaginated, tables of contexts and indices are also adjusted to make the text easy to search.

Currently, the only numismatic book publisher selling electronic versions of their books is Krause Publications. If you visit their online store you can search the Coin CDs/DVDs section to find a number of their publications, including the Standard Catalog series can be purchased on CD. Once you load the CD on your computer and copy the Portable Document Format (PDF) file to your hard disk, you can open the file in a PDF reader (Adobe Acrobat Reader on any system or Preview on a Mac). Once the file is open you can search for any text, zoom in to view any image up to 400 percent, add notes, bookmark pages, and highlight areas. Again, anything you can do with a real book except fold page corners.

Krause also sell sections of the Standard Catalogs and other publications as downloads. For example, if all you are interested in are Obsolete Bank Notes of the District of Columbia, you can just download that section of the Standard Catalog of United States Obsolete Bank Notes for significantly less than the entire four CD set.

Since I purchased the Standard Catalog of World Coins for the 20th century, it has been a wonderful resource to have while sitting at my computer. Searching for country coinage information and making highlights has really enhanced my appreciation for the work without having to lug around that huge volume. I also consider how many trees were saved by buying bits and not pulp.

At least Krause has taken the first step into electronic publishing. Whitman Publishing, the other major publisher of numismatic books, only offers "dead tree editions." I know that some people like the physical book, but they should start embracing the 21st century and offer e-books for those of us who want to read their books in a more portable format that does not kill trees. I am sure Whitman can figure out the economic benefits of replicating bits over importing physical copies from China.

Until Whitman and other numismatic publishers catch up with the e-reader, you can find classic electronic books to download to any device. The best source if Google Books. While Google Books does sell current editions in electronic format, they also have a number of scanned books they have permission to make available or whose copyrights have expired. The best way to find numismatic books is search for "coins" on the Google Books website. Books can be read online or you can download free books through the Google Bookstore. You can file early copies of The Numismatist through Google.

Publishers who have not embraced the e-reader will lose out on the business of younger numismatists and technology-oriented people like myself. CES made it clear that the future is in portable electronic devices and the publishers who cannot or will not provide the appropriate product will be losing out on new business. I hope the numismatic publishers consider this for their current and future publications

To read the complete article, see: Where Are the Electronic Numismatic Books (

Scott adds:

I am amazed at the response from this post! I must have hit a nerve with some people on both sides. There are those who love the physical paper versions, but the overwhelming number of people want more electronic versions. I may have sold some CDs for Krause... and I do not receive a commission.

I also received a note from someone at Whitman telling me that their "Encyclopedia of U.S. Paper Money" and the Professional Edition of the Red Book are available on a DVD.

I mentioned Scott's post to Dennis Tucker of Whitman Publishing, who offers the following response. -Editor

Whitman Publishing has already made some forays into electronic publishing. Dave Bowers's magisterial Whitman Encyclopedia of U.S. Paper Money is available on DVD (Mac and PC compatible), in the format of a searchable PDF with internal links. It's amazing what can be stored on a thin, lightweight, eminently portable disk --- in this case, 900 pages of historical research, market prices, auction records, more than 1,600 high-resolution color photographs. . . all the width and depth that Bowers is famous for. (Here's a link: The first Professional Edition of the Red Book was also available on DVD --- again, a huge amount of numismatic data and research.

The publishing world has made great leaps in recent years in terms of electronic distribution of content, with PDFs, apps, downloads, online push and pull broadcasting and narrowcasting, etc. We're continuing to explore and develop electronic distribution, and we'll announce new projects as we roll them out.

We also have two free web sites, and , that publish show reports, book reviews, numismatic interviews and commentary, auction news, and other hobby information on a regular basis. And collectors can follow us on Twitter and Facebook at WhitmanCoin.

Scott Barman and I were discussing book reviews this week; here are some musings I sent him.

Remember in the early and mid-1990s, when "CONTENT IS KING" became the mantra of every Internet consultant and Web design agency from coast to coast? It's still a very important concept in numismatic publishing. Whitman is strongly devoted to supporting fresh, ongoing, original numismatic research and authorship. This of course includes updated retail and wholesale pricing (as found in the Red Book and the Blue Book), updated auction records, updated certified coin populations, and the like. Those kinds of market data are very important to collectors, dealers, and investors.

But Whitman Publishing has a commitment to the hobby community that goes beyond just reporting on market trends. We've nurtured a booming renaissance in numismatic publishing over the past ten years or so in particular. That investment, that energy, that explosion of talent has created the CONTENT; without good content, distribution models (whether ink-on-paper or electronic) are irrelevant to the hobbyist. If the content is factually wrong, or if it's incomplete or misleading, or if it's just a stale rehashing of old previously published information, it won't matter if it's published in books or online --- collectors won't find it valuable. Neither the publisher nor the consumer will find true, lasting value in that formula.

Whitman Publishing has the best numismatic authors and researchers working today. Kenneth Bressett, Q. David Bowers, Jeff Garrett, Dick Doty, Roger W. Burdette, David W. Lange, Rick Snow, Mike Moran, Bill Fivaz, J.T. Stanton, Katherine Jaeger, Rick Tomaska, Nicholas Brown, David Camire, Fred Weinberg, David Sundman, Harlan J. Berk, Clifford Mishler, Jim Haxby, Art Friedberg, Ron Guth, John Dannreuther, Hugh Shull, George Tremmel, Robert Azpiazu, Ira and Larry Goldberg, Eric P. Newman, Paul Rynearson, David MacDonald, Don Bailey, Scott Schechter, Saul Teichman, Fred Reed, Adam Crum, Selby Ungar, Jeff Oxman, Frank Colletti, Bob Leonard, Len Augsburger, Joel Orosz --- that constellation of numismatic stars shows Whitman's commitment to content.

How we deliver that fresh, original content will continue to evolve. And it won't end with the current generation of numismatic superstars. Last year Whitman teamed up with the American Numismatic Association to revamp and endow three new literary awards for Young Numismatists. They'll be the ones digging in Treasury archives, unearthing primary documents, analyzing data, making brilliant connections, and writing about their findings after we all retire.

Is the traditional paper book obsolete? No. Are distribution models changing? Yes. Will Whitman Publishing continue to bring its best to collectors and serve their needs? Yes indeed!

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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