The Digital Woodress

Apparently I am behind the times… and the world does move, quickly!

I received a query this morning about where to find a biography of Booth Tarkington. The answer to that, of course, has long been: there has only been one exhaustive biography of Tarkington: James Woodress’s Booth Tarkington, Gentleman from Indiana, published by Lippincott in 1955. And it’s been out of print for over half a century.

Not so fast! Enter the influence of the Internet:

The Universal Library Project, sometimes called the Million Books Project, was pioneered by Jaime Carbonell, Raj Reddy, Michael Shamos, Gloriana St Clair, and Robert Thibadeau of Carnegie Mellon University. The Governments of India, China, and Egypt are helping fund this effort through scanning facilities and personnel. The Internet Archive has contributed 100k books from the Kansas City Public Library along with servers to India. The Indian government scanned the appropriate books. The Internet Archive has performed automated conversion of these scans into this collection.

One of the books in the Kansas City Public Library was, yes, the Woodress biography of Tarkington. Thanks to the government of India, you can now not only get a used copy of the original edition (I recommend abebooks.com), you can also get it as a Nook book, in a rather pricey paperback facsimile edition, or… browse it online for free!

One catch… the Indian government apparently created a new title for the book. See if you can spot the difference: Booth Tarkington,  Gentleman Form Indiana.

Ah, well. At least the price is right.

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