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Publisher series to move to series

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Edited: Sep 11, 2011, 5:40pm Top

I recently went through my catalog looking at the publisher series column and I found many entries that I believe belong in the regular series field. Some were moved in full from regular series, some only had information on a few volumes changed and some were originally entered in publisher series. Several of these are series that I had filled in. I am fairly steadfast in my belief that these belong in the regular series field. For the rest I have browsed through the Library of Congress records and am fairly certain that they are original publications, not reprints, but I would check more closely before moving the data.

I would move everything in this first list to regular series. But I don't want to change a lot of other people's work without some discussion.
Publishers series to move to series

This next of series have data filled, in part or full, for both regular series and publisher series. I think these are also fine as regular series and would remove the redundant publisher series info.

I found a few others that are a bit more questionable/debatable but I'll leave it here for the moment.

Sep 11, 2011, 5:56pm Top

A number of the titles in the "Ancient Culture and Society" series originally were published in a different language (i.e., presumably not written exclusively for the series). I listed this as a publisher series for this reason.
The regular series listing of the same name is more recent, I think. (someone seems to have been going through and creating "series" listings where a "publisher series" already exists).

Sep 11, 2011, 6:06pm Top

>1 eromsted: I glanced at only one of these, The Pelican Economic History of Britain, and at only one of the three titles. The Industry and Empire title was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson a year before it appeared in this series. This should remain a publisher's series.

Perhaps this was a hit at long odds, but I am not filled with confidence that these changes should be made.

Sep 11, 2011, 6:11pm Top

>2 spiphany:
Thanks. I didn't check that one too closely. In that case the series entries should be removed. I really wish there were a publishers series description field so we could leave notes on these things (and for all the other obvious reasons).

Sep 11, 2011, 6:35pm Top

As for the Norton Critical Editions, if we've decided that they should all be separated from their normal editions then, yes, it should be a Series and not a Publisher's Series. I'm not sure there's a consensus on that though.

Sep 11, 2011, 6:35pm Top

>3 affle:
So it wasn't originally a Pelican series. I'll have to look into it more but it would really surprise me if that set of authors just randomly decided to write a set of chronologically complementary survey texts within the span of a few years; especially the Hill and Hobsbawm volumes. Though I suppose it's possible.

But anyway, good, discussion. I prefer that to things just changing without explanation.

Edited: Sep 11, 2011, 7:02pm Top

I've basically come to the conclusion that LT's consensus is that pretty much all nonfiction series are publisher series (since most nonfiction series, at some point or another, will have books reprinted elsewhere - even if they were all commissioned for a particular series - and even if fiction series that have books reprinted elsewhere still get to be real series.)

As you might be able to tell from the parenthetical, I disagree with this consensus, but I have given up trying to fight the tide.

Sep 11, 2011, 7:15pm Top

>6 eromsted: Each volume seems to have been published by W&N a year or two before the Pelican.

Sep 11, 2011, 7:29pm Top

>7 melannen:
I don't believe there was any such consensus in any of the discussions. Actually, I recall much hope for input from the staff because of a general failure to reach a fully workable consensus. Nonfiction series are my primary use for LT series features so I refuse to give up on this.

Perhaps I'm most annoyed at seeing my own series entries altered without a general consensus or specific discussion.

>8 affle:
Right. And the W&N records don't have anything in the series field on WorldCat. So there is a prima facie case against them being a series. Still for the reason I gave above I'd like to go look at the books in the library to be more certain, though I'd only have access to the US editions by Pantheon. But there might be something in the book intros.

Edited: Sep 11, 2011, 8:31pm Top


All the books in the Anchor Bible series were all originally published by Doubleday (now Yale University press), so this is a real series. A real problem is something like the Bollingen series where there are both original items and reprints, and in some case an original book that was printed elsewhere (obviously a Publisher's sereis (Princeton U Pr), but it's not truly easy to tell which volumes are original and which are not).

Sep 11, 2011, 8:51pm Top

7> The distinction isn't between fiction and non-fiction series since Whosit's Collection of Classic American Literature probably meets the definition of a publisher series on LT. The important distinction is whether for every edition out there is the claim that it is in the proposed series accurate. Every Sherlock Holmes book is in the series no matter who published it, but my copy of Moby Dick may not be in the Whosit's Collection.

Sep 11, 2011, 9:12pm Top

8 > Right, but last time I was unwise enough to get into this discussion, I was told (repeatedly) that every Sherlock Holmes book is in the series "because it's obviously a Sherlock Holmes book", but every book in, say, a series of anthropology lectures isn't, because "it's not obviously part of the series if it's published separately."

And when I said, "To somebody who's very familiar with works in the subject, it is obvious where it came from," I was basically told, "Yes, but that doesn't count, because it's not obvious to us." The distinction seemed to be happening (almost, but not quite, entirely) along fiction/nonfiction grounds, because people are more trained to quantify the kinds of "obvious" connections that happen in fiction series.

Maybe consensus has changed while I've been avoiding the relevant threads! But what I've been seeing in my CK fields seems to still be using that standard.

Sep 11, 2011, 9:22pm Top

With non-fiction series, I generally ask first not whether the work exists in any other form, but whether the work was originally intended/created as part of a series, in some meaningful way. So to my mind, a volume of a Cambridge University Press History of Horseshoe-fitting that was originally commissioned for that series (Volume 12: Horseshoe-fitting in the Age of Reason), remains part of that series even if the work goes out of copyright and Penguin decides to reprint only that volume of the original series. I know there are others who disagree on that last point.

Publishers' groupings of translated books, then, probably won't ever count as a "series," since the original language version won't have been created as part of that series. Ditto for publisher series that reprint works already available in the same language but from a different publisher. (Slight edge case that I treat differently: if a publisher repackages works it initially commissioned for one series and renames the series in order to release all or part of it again, but that publisher still has a monopoly on those works in both series versions, I tend to let both versions stay in the "series" field.)

Sep 12, 2011, 5:17am Top

I remember working on the Fontana History of Europe as a series, before the publishers series existed. Then I found that it was published in the US by Blackwell, and changed it to Fontana-Blackwell. Then I found that some of the volumes were issued under different titles as part of a Renaissance set by the Folio Society, and I realised that it didn't count as a true series, but I must admit that at that stage I just left it alone rather than deleting the whole thing.

So when the Publishers Series were set up, I thought it was an ideal candidate to move from a series to a publishers series. It really is a pity that there's still no text box to give a series description where I could have made a note of all this.

Edited: Sep 12, 2011, 10:40am Top

Some general thoughts:


13 > "commissioned" as part of a series -- what does "commissioned" mean? Does it mean that it was at the publisher's initiative -- i.e., the publisher goes out and commissions a work?

Certainly many academic works are submitted on the author's initiative -- either to a series editor or to a publisher, which places the work in an appropriate series as a business / marketing decision.

Many academic works wouldn't fit neatly into "commissioned" or "submitted" boxes -- they result from a dialog amongst scholars and editors in a field.

"Commissioned" by a publisher is also irrelevant, the instant a work gets published into another series.

(2) fiction / nonfiction distinction.

I think this ends up being a de facto guideline in part because of the examples given for each CK field: for "series" the examples are fictional series (LOTR); for "publisher series" the examples are critical / scholarly series.

But fiction / nonfiction also will typically serve as a proxy for "authors' intent" / "publishers' intent", which maybe arguably is the better distinction. Authors' intent is *always* going to keep something a series, whether it's fiction or non-fiction. But publishers' intended series are only relevant until one single work in the series gets re-published in a different series. All that requires is that one author in the series keeps their copyright, or gets permission, to re-publish their work in some other series.

Frankly one might argue that re-publications NOT in a series should also invalidate a publishers' series from being included in the "series field". If all editions of a given work are NOT in one and one only series, then it's hard to make a good claim for it as a series.

(3) My own practices.
(a) Standard LT policy: If it's a publisher-originated series, and some of the titles are republished in other series, then it's a publisher series according to the LibraryThing guidelines. This includes, e.g., "lecture series", which -- IMO -- ought to have a separate "series" identity regardless of whether some of the lectures are published other times.
(b) Edge / Judgment cases: If it appears to me to be a publisher-originated series of otherwise unrelated titles, AND some of the titles are republished by other publishers, then I consider it a publisher series. This includes a lot of reference works (bibliographies), and a lot of more university press, popular press, and journalistic monographs -- as these works get reprinted they are sometimes moved into / added into different series by the same publisher; or the series info is dropped altogether; or as #14 EveleenM points out, the publisher has changed identities and often changed or merged series. And, hese things also frequently have electronic editions or supplemental materials, which make it complicated to think about the series. In other words, there doesn't appear to me to be a clear boundary to the series -- so given the overlap it reads to me as a publisher series.

Edited: Sep 12, 2011, 11:01am Top

Adding some of #1's specific series with thoughts and my analysis:

(1) "Reith Lectures". I had originally added the Russell title to "Reith Lectures" series (and in fact I created the series), but the Russell title has been published many times outside of the Reith Lectures series publication. So I moved "Reith Lectures" to publisher-series.

If you want to argue that "Lecture Series" should be series, I agree. But as a matter of publication, they are, by LT's definition, usually "publisher series" -- because it's all too common for the most popular and best-known of the lectures to get republished by other publishers, and often included in various series.

I could get behind a rule that said they should get entries in both: a lecture series entry in the "series" field, and a publisher-tied entry (that lists the publisher's name) in the "publisher series" field.

(2) Women and Work - This is a nonfiction anthology series. Probably as anthologies go the contents are unique to the publisher's series, and so this is probably a "series" under LT's definition. Looks like I moved it. Either this was an excess of enthusiasm on my part (and a mistake) during a mass-move of series, or there was something in one of the editions in one of the titles that made me think it would work better as a "publisher series" than as a "series".

I think there's something a little funky about non-fiction anthologies as publisher series. When there's a commissioning editor, an authorial vision, they can make sense. But because they're a collection of collections, all the individual components can be published and republished in other series. Sometimes en masse -- i.e., with collections of letters that might get re-published. But whatever -- my feelings about this category aside, any individuals series in this category might qualify as "publisher-series" or as "series". And so this one maybe should get moved back to "series".

(3) Norton Library History of England - has "related series" A History of England, which is probably a duplicate, i.e., the two series need to be merged and one name picked; but then there's also "related publisher series" Routledge Classics", which is a clear indication that at least one of these titles has been republished by some other publisher in some other series -- making it, by LT's definition, a "publisher series".

I'll add some more when I get a chance.

Sep 12, 2011, 4:58pm Top

Thank you for the comments above. But before I get to them, one more for the list:

I purchased one of these at a yard sale this weekend and it is a critical edition with extensive additional materials. In the specific case an original short story of about 30 pages and about 400 pages of other selections and analysis. The fraction of additional materials might not be so high for all the volumes, but I'd still say they should be separated out and listed as a regular series.

>15 lquilter:
We have what is likely an insuperable difference of opinion. In my view series of original publication is work level information analogous to original publication date. It provides information, to varying degrees, about the time, place, manner and intent involved in the creation of the work. It remains true and interesting regardless of subsequent publication history.

For example, I recently finished a book in French history. The English edition of this book has no indication of it being part of a series on the cover, title, or publication page. However, the introduction begins, "You have in your hands a work which I would certainly never have undertaken of my own accord if the publisher had not approached me to do so." The book was written as part of a French series in early modern French history. And it turns out to be a fairly introductory series. Without the series designation, it looked to me more like a monograph. I might not have selected the book for my reading list had I known.

The book I just started was published in the Past and Present Publications series, affiliated with the academic history journal Past & Present. This is probably not a commissioned series, but it still says a lot about the perspective and quality of the books in the series and it is something I would want to see highlighted even if the book were later republished.

In my reading, the principle intent of the series guidelines was always to exclude reprint series like, e.g., Modern Library Classics. The issue is not that these are publisher organized series, but that they apply to only certain editions and not to the work. As such they should not be included in the various LT series features (top of the page attribution, series column in the catalog and the statistics and catalog view features). But it is precisely my contention that original publication series is work level information that, unlike reprint series, I want to see in those features.

Entering academic nonfiction series is also of considerable past practice by many members (myself included). Very little if anything was said or done in objection to this practice until the publisher series field was introduced. I don't think the publisher series field, which again I believe was introduced as a stopgap measure for listing reprint edition series in the absence of a true editions layer, should alter that practice. And significantly, even with an editions layer I would like to see original publication series info listed at the work level for the reasons given above.

I don't believe the guideline examples provide any useful guidance on original publication series nor am I aware of the staff having specifically commented on the issue. I rather wish they would.

Sep 12, 2011, 7:22pm Top

>17 eromsted:

I had mentioned the Bedfords in a thread (Shakespeare related because this is where I have a few of them) - if you ask me, they should be treated as the Nortons...

Edited: Sep 12, 2011, 7:41pm Top

17 eromsted >

(1) "Series of original publication" is indeed important information; it is simply a unique piece of data. I don't disagree with you about its value at all, although I'm not completely certain that all original-publication-information is truly work-level. (For instance, a work might be published roughly contemporaneously in different languages, in different series; just because the English language is 3 months earlier, and its publisher includes it in Series XYZ, doesn't mean that that necessarily is some kind of critical work-related information.)

But "series of original publication" is not the LT definition of the "series" field. If data in "series of original publication" turns out to be edition-specific -- i.e., if the work is published in another series later on -- then, according to the LT definition, that's not a "series", it's a "publisher series". See http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/Common_Knowledge#Series : "Never create publisher series, unless the publisher has a true monopoly over the "works" in question. So, the Dummies guides are a series of works. But the Loeb Classical Library is a series of editions, not of works." (See also http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/Series "Series".)

That's not, by the way, the way I would personally prefer to define these concepts, or the information I would personally like to track.

(2) Academic series -- I too have entered many of these. When we didn't have "publisher series" I put them in "series". Once we got "publisher series" my default has become to put them in "publisher series", because of the frequency of reprints, partial reprints, multiple editions, and so forth.

(3) Sure, "publisher series" is an inadequate substitute for an editions layer. I'm not sure how it follows, though, that the inadequacy of one field makes another field in the same database more adequate.

Sep 12, 2011, 9:10pm Top

As someone who hasn't thought hard and long about all these issues, I do think that if my copy of the book doesn't belong to the series, then the series is a good candidate for a Publisher Series. Non-fiction series are somewhat more difficult, because they aren't connected in the same way that a fictional story is related to other stories in the series by characters/place etc. But it comes back to looking at my series lists.

Sep 12, 2011, 10:18pm Top

>20 tjsjohanna:

That test should always be working -- if anyone has a copy that is not from the series, it cannot be a real LT series:)

Sep 12, 2011, 10:27pm Top

Yep, that makes sense, but the problem is defining what it means to be "from the series." If a work was originally published as part of a series, but then everyone forgot about all the other works in the series (or a publisher decided to reprint only that work while leaving the rest out of print, or something), would the work still belong to the series?

So you're talking about the "other editions" test. What eromsted is asking about is the "original intent" test. These two might not always give the same answers.

Sep 12, 2011, 10:35pm Top

>22 rsterling: So you're talking about the "other editions" test. What eromsted is asking about is the "original intent" test. These two might not always give the same answers.

Indeed, and I agree with eromsted that "original intent" is uniquely interesting and valuable. But it's not LT's definition (according to Tim et al) of "series" and "publisher series".

Edited: Sep 12, 2011, 10:55pm Top

23 - Actually, it is part of it: "A good rule of thumb is that series have a conventional name and are intentional creations, on the part of the author or publisher."

Sep 12, 2011, 11:14pm Top

And lquilter's strict reading of the publisher monopoly guideline logically leads to a distrust of putting any nonfiction series in the regular series field because it's just too much trouble to figure out if one volume was published separately. And even if you can confirm the case now you have to perpetually keep track of future changes.

But I just don't think this was ever the intent of the guidelines. It isn't the Dummies series are fine unless some of them are later published under another series name in French and we'll have to check on this all the time. I think the question simply isn't covered because it's too difficult to cover well in a short guideline. And the main point was to emphatically exclude reprint series.

Further the guidelines for series didn't change when the publisher series field was introduced. What was reasonable before should still be reasonable. And it isn't just about one field in the database or another because the fields do different things. And what the series field does, not what it's called, was really the whole issue from the beginning.

It's also true that the importance original publication series varies along a continuum. And there are some where it doesn't really matter. But there are some where it most certainly does. And these series are really nothing like reprint collections. And I think this information should be highlighted in the manner or the regular series field.

And I don't find mention in the book to be a sufficient test. My copy of The Birth of Absolutism doesn't say anything about the series Nouvelle Histoire de la France Moderne. But it was written for that series and wouldn't have been written without that series and I want to know that it is part of that series (this is the book I quoted from above). Also sometimes secondary publishers do retain the original series information. Sometimes they don't. I try to fill in a lot of complete series. If they do retain the series info, is it still a valid series? Seems reasonable, but how can I possibly check when I don't have access to every possible edition of every work?

So I prefer to err in the other direction, of including some original publication series in regular series that might not be so interesting. Though I'm happy to discuss individual cases.

Sep 12, 2011, 11:37pm Top

Non-fiction is a bit different... I think there going with the originally intended series makes more sense (Oxford Story Of England for example... even if only a volume is published somewhere, it is part of the big series...)

Fiction is easier... much easier

Sep 13, 2011, 9:53am Top

But I just don't think this was ever the intent of the guidelines.

I think the intent of the guidelines was to avoid anyone ever looking at their catalog and seeing that one of their books has the series field filled in and saying "What the **** ... my book isn't in that series!".

Sep 13, 2011, 10:07am Top

27 by jjwilson61>
I think that's an excellent summary.

Sep 13, 2011, 10:30am Top

And my argument is that if the work was originally published in a series it remains in that series. If someone isn't aware of that interesting fact in the work's history it's an opportunity to learn something. It's something I would be happy to learn about any of my books.

Sep 13, 2011, 10:54am Top

29> Perhaps. And other people would be very upset that LT says their book is in the series while the cover of their book says no such thing,

Sep 13, 2011, 5:31pm Top

On this thread, this note about "first edition" is of relevance to this discussion. I quote:

"First edition" isn't always a straight-forward thing. In some cases, the order of precidence of editions is unclear. There are country editions (first American, first British, etc..) and translated editions. For some books, there can be various states of the first edition (not to mention later additions) which are often distinguished by texual differences, typos, advertisments in the the book and even dust jackets. Formats/sizes (Octavo, Elephanf folio, minature) and illustrated (first illustrated edition, etc.) need to be considered too. Some publishers produced different versions of a book (delux and trade edition) at the same time and multiple bindings and cover art are not uncommon. For books before 1850's, covers are less consistant, for many bindings were commisioned by the purchaser of the book, rather than the publisher and are simple marbled paper or leather bindings. Also, when dealing with books which originally circulated in manuscript form, the terms, editio princeps and editiones principes (plural) are more appropriate terms.

So while I agree that in many instances of modern academic and trade publishing that "series" is an intentional construct and has some merit, it simply isn't universally the case. The Durant's history is a series. LOTR is a series. The Left Book Club? Well, a lot of the works were original to the series, but not all; some were even commissioned for the series. Since then a lot of books have been reprinted in other series or in non-series editions. Is it of interest to know that a particular title was published in the Left Book Club? Surely, to many people. What's the cut-off of interest and relevance? I don't have to make the call, because Tim et al already did it. "True monopoly" -- not my words, not my concept, but we have to agree on the groundrules before we can work out the edge cases. "Strict reading"? Okay; give me an alternate reading that is actually consistent with "true monopoly". But "original edition published in this series" is an entirely different test, not a "reading" (strict or otherwise) of "true monopoly".

Sep 13, 2011, 8:30pm Top

I'm mostly unimpressed by appeals to authority. I'd rather talk about why it's good to do things in a certain way. On that front I take jjwilson's point, but I simply think that kind of objection is far more unlikely in the case of the nonfiction series I'm interested in than in the case of classic reprint series. So, "My Les Miserables isn't a Penguin Classic!" - likely; "My White Servitude in the Colony of Virginia isn't a Johns Hopkins University Study in Historical and Political Science!" - much less likely.

But back to the rules game. The first paragraph says, "A good rule of thumb is that series have a conventional name and are intentional creations, on the part of the author or publisher" and "Avoid series that cross authors, unless the authors were or became aware of the series identification."

When a book is first published an author works with the publisher's editors in the finalization of the book. If the book is to be published in a series the author works with the general editor(s) of that series. If the book is commissioned this cooperation will be quite significant. But it is likely to be real even in other cases. In any event, the author is aware of the fact that his/her book will be published under a particular series designation and at least tacitly agrees to this. So although the publisher may be the primary organizer of the series, when it is a series of original volumes the series is in fact a cooperative effort between the publisher and the authors. As such it is not a publisher series in the manner of reprint series which is simply a regrouping of previously existing works.

So I would say that a series of original publication, particularly in the case of commissioned series, is not really a publisher series but a publisher/authors series. As such, the whole question of publisher monopoly in the second paragraph (which refers only to publisher series) doesn't apply.

But that's not really my reason, though it partakes of elements of my thinking. My real reason is that over the course of previous extended discussions on the issue I came to the belief that the standard of publisher monopoly is simply unworkable. There are examples where the series changes but the publisher doesn't, where the publisher changes but the series doesn't, where the publisher changes and the series isn't listed on the cover but it's still on the title page or somewhere else, etc. It makes no sense to try to follow a rule that doesn't work.

As to the Left Book Club, though I think the issue of series that include both original and reprint volumes is interesting but distinct, and I'd prefer to leave it aside for the moment. If I included any such series in my list above that was against my intention and I would appreciate them being pointed out.

Moving on, though I'm not totally averse to addition discussion, I think we've rather beat the general issue to death. For the time being I'd rather take a look at my examples above and any other people would like to share and see if they may actually meet the strict standard on series.

Sep 13, 2011, 9:29pm Top

So I would say that a series of original publication, particularly in the case of commissioned series, is not really a publisher series but a publisher/authors series.

I just don't think you can say that, as a general rule. And that's why I think this definition ("series of original publication") is not the same as the LT definition. We can agree to disagree.

Anyway, I'm happy to let it all drop, with one quick last personal note: I take umbrage at the "appeal to authority" line. I'm not appealing to authority to support an argument; I'm describing the authority's definition. Those are rather distinct positions. (NB: My own preferred definition isn't "the authority's" definition, either. I can still recognize what the "authority" definition is, what my wishes are, and where the fudge lines might be.

Sep 13, 2011, 9:45pm Top

I take umbrage at the "appeal to authority" line.

Point taken. I was looking for a cute way to say that I was about to argue in a manner that I don't really like. It was meant to be about me not about you.

Sep 14, 2011, 12:33am Top

I concede that for lecture series and other types of academic series it may make sense to have different rules. I'm unqualified to judge what those rules should be though.

Sep 14, 2011, 1:50am Top

It seems like what we could use is a "Book facts" CK field where you can squirrel away various nuggets of interesting info like this and others that don't and probably won't ever fit into another CK entry.

Sep 14, 2011, 2:05am Top


Sep 14, 2011, 2:12am Top

For me, at some point it comes down to a judgment call on how central is the connection between the original work and its original series. For academic lecture series, IMV, the connection is central enough that the work itself (not just the initial edition of the work) has and maintains a link to that series. It was a lecture - or set of lectures - written specifically for the purpose of that series, and that relationship doesn't go away if another publisher picks up and reprints that author's lecture or set of lectures later. Ditto for books originally written as part of a chronological history of some sort.

A lot, here, has to do with how influential that initial series designation is in the conception and/or framing of the work. Some academic publisher series -- University of Whoosit Press Studies in Contemporary Basketweaving -- have only a very vague thematic relationship across the included works. For those, the connection between work and series seems more tenuous and almost, if not quite, accidental; if the author had gone with some other publisher, it would have ended up in some other series name. With those, republication by another publisher might indeed break the series enough to make it a publisher series on LT: the original was in Cornell UP's special series, while my version is in Harvard UPs special series, but there's next to no meaningful relationship to Cornell UP that would make me think that my Harvard copy was in the Cornell series. By contrast, if I own a work that was written for Stanford's Lecture Series on X, originally published by Stanford, but my copy is University of California Press, nonetheless that work still retains its relation to the lecture series for which it was written. It is, and always will have been, written for / as part of that lecture series.

Sep 14, 2011, 3:22am Top

30> So? They can complain that their copy of the Wizard of Oz or Tom Sawyer doesn't mention that it's part of a series, but nobody has argued for removing those books from their series.

Sep 14, 2011, 6:20am Top

#37 by r.orrison> Description?

Doesn't really seem to fit for me. Though until such a field is created the information could be put there.

Edited: Sep 14, 2011, 1:27pm Top

>39 prosfilaes:: Yeah, this is always going to be my problem with the "strict constructivist" argument (and the 'wtf, my book isn't in this series' argument) : I understand the argument, but I know plenty people who own a copy of the Wizard of Oz, or Tom Sawyer, or Tarzan, or even Splinter of the Mind's Eye*, who have no idea their book is part of a series, and couldn't tell from their copy, because their copy wasn't published as part of a series. And yet I don't see anybody arguing that those need to be moved to publisher series. So why is this only brought up with nonfiction series?

*hell, Splinter of the Mind's Eye was originally published as a stand-alone, and only later shoehorned into an existing series of novels after the rights had been bought by a different publisher. And yet..

Sep 14, 2011, 2:50pm Top

41> I think because if anyone claimed that Tarzan wasn't part of a series a hundred people would shout them down that it is. It's just that Tarzan is part of a series in a different way than Today's Basketweaving is part of the Modern Crafts series. They're really two completely different definitions of series that should never have been conflated in the first place.

Sep 14, 2011, 9:02pm Top

42: This statement clarifies a lot of things for me. Just to restate, it looks like what people are considering a "series" for fiction are actually books with related narratives, regardless of any label that they might bear to that effect. Most of the non-fiction book series are books that have been related to each other as part of the publishing process. However, there are, as people above have argued, non-fiction books which are actually related narratives, regardless of any label that they might bear to that effect. (For instance, the four volumes of Winston Churchill's History of the Second World War).

Unfortunately, even though we seem to have two types of "series" (continuous narratives vs. works associated by exterior forces) and we have two fields, the definitions for those fields don't correspond to the two different kinds of "series" and rely on (to me) unknowable criteria like was the book ever published separately from its series.

Is this a good summary of the problem? Can we do anything to fix it? (Because I'm getting tired of trying to figure out whether (hypothetical) Leisure Arts Leaflet # 7823 Knitting for Your Pet Snake has ever been republished by someone other than Leisure Arts so I can decide if the thousands of Leisure Arts pamphlets should be a "regular" series or a "publishers" series.)

Sep 14, 2011, 10:23pm Top

43 > I really think that it ought to have been "author" versus "publisher" series to begin with. And in some instances the publisher *is* an equal author -- e.g., Dummies.

Sep 15, 2011, 2:03am Top

>44 lquilter: Hear, hear.

Sep 15, 2011, 2:53am Top

#44: So there should be no series that includes the entire Wheel of Time, since there's two authors? There's a lot of obvious fiction series that have multiple authors, but that's a great one, since it's a simple linear series where the last three books that finish the series just happened to be written by someone other than the original author (since he died before finishing them.)

Sep 15, 2011, 7:56am Top

44 > No, the authors intended to be sequelae. It's not just the intent of the first author in the series that counts, although in some instances maybe that suggests an original-author series as well. So for Jordan, maybe two series is appropriate, like Oz: Baum originals, then Baum plus.

This would certainly include some nonfiction works, btw, not just Churchill or the Durants history, but lecture series, those high-profile short literary biographies, etc.

But how a different system might work is kind of irrelevant!

Sep 15, 2011, 3:47pm Top

>47 lquilter:
I'd say that the original author's intent is what ultimately matters. The Sanderson books are part of the Wheel of Time series because Jordan wanted someone to write them, and left notes for them to do so. This is vastly different from, for example, all the Sherlock Holmes stories written by other people.

Sep 16, 2011, 1:15am Top

48 > Ah, there's a million different fact-scenarios. Margaret Mitchell only wrote Gone with the Wind, but her estate "authorized" sequels; Frank Herbert & the Dune series was a mix of intended follow-up like Jordan and then going-it-on-their-own.

Sep 16, 2011, 12:33pm Top

Checking the series I began the thread with is a slow process but here's a start.

Six of the seven volumes were published only by Brill according to worldcat.

The seventh is a translation of The Chaldean Oracles by Ruth Dorothy Majercik. But this edition is not simply a translation, it is a duel language edition with introduction and commentary. The duel language text is about 90 pages. The into is 46 pages and the commentary 85 pages. (See google books copy) Is this socially different from other editions of The Chaldean Oracles?

The Majercik edition is published only by Brill. So if this edition of The Chaldean Oracles should be separated, Studies in Greek and Roman Religion is fine as a series.

Mar 10, 2012, 4:13pm Top

This discussion, and the sidebar on a series page, have completely confused me as to what is or is not a series and what is the difference between a 'series' and a 'publisher series'. The original series sidebar, while admitting to some ambiguity, stated that a series is a collection of works by one author intended by the author to be a series. An exception is that a sequel or prequel by another author is okay if it was understood by the original author that such was going to be the case. It was also clear in the original sidebar that a collection issued by a publisher of works by multiple authors is NOT a series. That is what, I thought, led to the creation of the 'Publishers series' field.

Now, the sidebar refers to 'groups of books', rather than 'groups of works', inserts the publisher's intent into the 'series' part, while still stating that we should 'avoid series that cross authors...'. The sidebar even goes so far as to say "avoid publisher series" unless the publisher has a monopoly over the works (I don't see why that's relevant, since it's CK info, not individual book in my library info, and a work can be in more than one series, even a 'series' and a 'publisher series').

And this discussion suggests that the difference between a publisher series has more to do with whether the works are fiction or non-fiction than whether or not the series is a single author's works or a collection of works issued by a publisher as a series, regardless of author. If that's the case, the whole distinction seems of no value, and we might as well go back to the generic 'series' and use it for all publisher and author series, right?

Isn't the Loeb Classical Library a publishers series, along with Easton Press's Classics of Science Fiction and Time-Life's Hsitory of the Civil War, while Churchill's History of WWII is an (author) series, as are Walter Scott's Waverley novels?

Can someone summarize the current thinking on series, because most of my work in setting up series and publisher series back when they were first introdued seems to be out the window now?


Mar 10, 2012, 4:17pm Top

#51 by Osbaldistone> The problem, as this discussion and many, many other 200+ message ones presents, is that there isn't a single "current thinking". There was more of such before Tim introduced a separate Publisher Series field, but he didn't do a lot of clarifying and as you've seen never updated some of the various help text that tell you things like "avoid publisher series".

Mar 10, 2012, 4:54pm Top

Now, the sidebar refers to 'groups of books', rather than 'groups of works', inserts the publisher's intent into the 'series' part, while still stating that we should 'avoid series that cross authors...'. The sidebar even goes so far as to say "avoid publisher series" unless the publisher has a monopoly over the works (I don't see why that's relevant, since it's CK info, not individual book in my library info, and a work can be in more than one series, even a 'series' and a 'publisher series').

AFAIK, all of this text in the sidebar pre-dates the introduction of the publisher series field, and hasn't been updated since. Also, I think the use of "book" rather than "work" there is just sloppiness, i.e. using the term "book" in its non-LT-specific sense.

In my view, the simplest criteria for distinguishing series and publisher series, and figuring out whether a group of books is one or the other, are the following:
-- INTENTION/ORIGINAL VERSION TEST: Was the work, and were all the works in this "group," originally produced as part of (intended to be part of) this specific grouping of books?
---- If yes then it's a series: so, Churchill's History of WWII meets this criterion. If the Time-Life History of the Civil War books were all written explicitly for that series (I don't know), then it might also count (but see below on exclusivity).
---- If no, then it's likely a publisher series: In the case of Loeb's classical library, the answer might be yes and no, but the no overrules the yes.
Another version of "no" is something like the Legacy Library test: if this work was around in Thomas Jefferson's time, could he have owned it as a part of this group of books? TJ may well have owned a copy of Aristotle's Politics, but he most certainly did not own a copy that was in the Loeb series, which did not exist then. If the work predates the "series," then the series is most likely a publisher series.

-- EXCLUSIVITY TEST: Are all the works in the list exclusive to that list? (In other words, there are no books in this group that also exist in a version/edition that is not part of this group.)
----- if yes, then it's probably safe to call it a series. Take the Time-Life History of the Civil War books again: if all of these works only exist in this version put out by Time-Life, then it's fine for it to remain marked as a series.
----- if no, then it's probably a publisher series. Back to the Time-Life example: if some of the books in the Time-Life History of the Civil War group are republications of works that had also been published by some other publisher, then that would make Time-Life History of the Civil War a publisher series.

Notice that I do not include author vs. publisher as a criterion.

There are still some gray areas: for instance, some disagreement about what to do if a non-fiction book is initially written as part of a particular series and later republished with no mention of the original series. But really, those are rare cases, and can be worked out case-by-case. Or, I tend to give more weight to the original version/intention criterion than others do. In practice, however, these two criterion work more or less the same, and give the same results in the vast majority of cases.

So, to go back to all your examples, this is how I would call them:
Loeb Classical Library - publisher series: because it contains works that were not originally produced as part of that series and that also exist in versions outside of the series.
Easton Press's Classics of Science Fiction - publisher series: for the same reason as Loeb.
Churchill's History of WWII - series: because the works were originally produced as part of that series. Also, it's not possible to have a version of one of the works that isn't part of the series.
Walter Scott's Waverley novels - series, if these were written with the intention of making them a related group, etc.

Time-Life's History of the Civil War -- I don't know, because I don't know whether the works were originally commissioned as part of the series or whether they're exclusive to it. Could be either one, depending on the answers to those questions.

Mar 10, 2012, 5:06pm Top

Actually, now that I think about it more, here's an even simpler criterion:

Does *every* single copy on LT, of *all* of those works in the group, belong to this "series"?
-- If yes, then series is probably ok.
-- If no, then publisher series.

Mar 10, 2012, 7:54pm Top

>54 rsterling:
Thanks, rsterling. I've been out of the series business for about a year and, after making a few changes and feeling like I was swimming upstream, went looking for clarification and was quickly overwhelmed. I understand how you're making the distinction, and it's quite helpful. I think I got my wires crossed because I thought the paragraph about publishers series was there specifically to address that field. My fuzzy memory now seems to recall that there was something like that in the sidebar before the publishers series field. That makes a big difference. I'm happy to use these criteria and try not to pay too much attention to the sidebar. But anyone reading the sidebar for guidance will be working against this approach, even undoing what others have done. I'm not sure I'm ready to wade into this after all.


Jul 20, 2012, 5:11pm Top

Should we have duplicate publisher series and series? http://www.librarything.com/publisherseries/Pathfinder+Adventure+Path has been created, and it's almost an exact duplicate of http://www.librarything.com/series/Pathfinder+Adventure+Path . I would delete the first, but deleting a lot of other people's work is a big deal. Series-wise, it's a series of series. Every six months a new subseries is started, with new setting and storyline, and issues released every month. The subseries are connected by being set in the same fictional world, having the same format, and basically being the solely owned periodical publication of one publisher.

Mar 31, 2013, 1:03am Top

I don't see any reason for this to be a publisher series. What keeps it from being a regular series?

Apr 30, 2013, 4:18pm Top

The LTer who made it probably reasoned: It's all by the same publisher, so it's a publisher series.
Something that confuses me still too sometimes.

Perhaps you can send her a note about it, so she can change it herself..

Apr 30, 2013, 4:33pm Top

But isn't it even more obvious that they are by the same author? I will change it to a regular series. I just wondered if anyone knew any possible reason for the publisher series.

Aug 23, 3:31am Top

I don't see any reason for this to be a publisher series. What keeps it from being a regular series?

Aug 23, 3:32am Top

I don't see any reason for this to be a publisher series. What keeps it from being a regular series?

Aug 23, 3:36am Top

Probably the fact that the books have no actual connection to each other, aside of being a Scholastic series on a broad topic?

Aug 23, 3:48am Top

>62 PolymathicMonkey: Being a series does not require that the books have a connection to each other. An example is the Dummies series.

Aug 23, 5:45am Top

>63 Collectorator: But the Dummies series are all formatted and written to a common standard; the Parts of Tens, the ways illustrations are used, etc.

Aug 23, 5:48am Top

>64 prosfilaes: ya, well, so, but, what?

Aug 23, 5:29pm Top

>65 Collectorator: They have a connection to each other. They are not a random set of books under the same title.

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