Historians Debate Value of Circulating
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Book Reviews on Line
Date: January 19, 1996
Section: Information Technology
The growing use of Internet mailing lists to circulate book reviews proved
to be a controversial topic at the annual meeting of the American
In the past year, H-Net, a scholarly project that
includes 50 mailing lists in various subfields of history, has published
more than 400 book reviews, with about 1,300 more in the pipeline.
Mark Kornbluh, an assistant professor of history at
Michigan State University who coordinates the book-review project, told a
panel discussion that electronic reviews can be published more quickly than
printed versions and provide reviewers with more space.
But other historians at the meeting had qualms over the
Christopher Tomlins, a historian with the American Bar
Foundation and editor of Law and History Review, said his journal had
considered publishing electronic reviews but decided not to do so. "We felt
it might be a death blow to our own journal," he said.
Moreover, he and others questioned whether the speedier
publication and greater length of electronic reviews were necessarily
good. "The reviews that I admire most," he said, "are reviews that manage
to be succinct."