Monday, 26 September 2011

A decent proposal

Magia posthuma
I love collecting vampire resources. Books, mainly. I've developed a taste for vampire journals, the kind of thing published by vampire clubs and societies. 

As a member of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, I receive a quarterly newsletter—The Borgo Post—and an annual edition of the brilliant Journal of Dracula Studies. But that kinda material's not easy to score if you're not a member such an organisation.

In the heady days before the Internet, vampire zines and journals proliferated. Martin V. Riccardo's Vampire Studies Society had its Journal of Vampirism. Eric Held and Dorothy Nixon's Vampire Information Exchange churned out the Vampire Information Exchange Newsletter. Before creating his Shroudeater website, Rob Brautigam published International Vamp. Meanwhile, John L. Vellutini seemed to be running a one-man-show with the Journal of Vampirology. There were many more.

These journals were often short-lived due to publishing costs, dwindling memberships and the advent of the 'net. If you're lucky, you might find individual copies available online. They're nearly always laden with high prices, due to greed or scarcity. It's almost impossible to determine their contents without contacting a seller or having a bibliography at hand. Even so, bibliographic coverage would be minimal at best.

So, how do we bring these neglected resources into the light of the 21st century? Are we doomed to scour the 'net for over-priced single copies of defunct and obscure journals? Not necessarily.

My solution? Open access. That is, 'unrestricted online access to articles published in scholarly journals, and also increasingly to book chapters or monographs.' University students would be familiar with the concept through accessibility to ejournal databases like JSTOR and EBSCO. So, my proposition is this: why not make one for vampire journals? A Vampire Journal Article Database. VJAD. Or, if we include newsletters, a Vampire Article Database. VAD. Scan all the old journals into pdf format. Have a search function. Full-text. The works.

Imagine all the 'new' information we'd be able to uncover. Long-neglected stuff. Isn't an open access database better than letting the works go to rot? True, there are logistical issues involved. Upholding copyright for various, individual author contributions would be a nightmare. Therefore, I suggest the authors waive it. Yep, a totally not-for-profit enterprise. It's all about access. Unless we do an iTunes kinda thing: pay a coupla bucks to download the article, proceeds go straight to author. Something like that.

What do you think?

2 comments:

Dave Baymiller said...

That would be fantastic. I would be useless in helping as I don't own any of these little publications, and they do sound fascinating, but obviously I would love to read the material.

Anthony Hogg said...

I've scarcely read any, myself, Dave, but I do have the complete run of the 'Journal of Vampirology' and a few issues of the 'Vampire Information Exchange Newsletter'.

I first learned about these publications in J. Gordon Melton's 'The vampire book: the encyclopedia of the undead' (1994). If you're interested, I recommend scoring a copy of that book or its subsequent editions.

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