This semester I have been working with two physical copies of both editions of St. Nicholas and Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks from 1881. When considering how the physical aspects of a book affect the meaning of the book it can be valuable to compare the book to its digital counterpart. One of the first things I noticed when I was looking at the online version of my book was that only one of the two editions included a picture of the cover and the first two pages of the book. And the version that did offer a picture of the cover does not do it any justice.
As you can see the online version of the cover is shaded and does not show the great effort and detail put into binding the book and making the cover let alone include the whole cover in the picture. Instead Hathi Trust inserted 4 blank pages in between what would be the cover and the title page that do not exist in the physical copies of the magazine. Hathi Trust acquired they copy from Princeton so there is a book stamp in one of the editions that shows it is Princeton’s possession while my editions have book stamps showing Colby has ownership of the book by way of William B. Miller. Something that frustrated me while looking at the only copy was that at the bottom of each page it reminds you that the magazine was digitized by google and the original copy was provided by Princeton University.
It very much makes the magazine seem much less like a piece of history then when you are reading a hard copy of the magazine. Other than that the online version did do a very good job scanning the text and images that appear in the hard copy. Unlike the other versions I looked at Hathi Trust did a very good job making sure the text was in line and easy to read. It is a little less convenient to have to scroll down through pages instead of turning them because my mind is less used to reading books and magazines top to bottom instead of cover to cover. One of the things they do well to make the online version is as easy to follow as the hard copy is makes sure that the online pages are given them same page number as the one that appears would appear on the hard copy making it very easy to look at the same pages side by side throughout this process. The only noticeable fault in text alignment I noticed was that the left and right margins of the text change size every other page but this is inevitable in a top to bottom scan of a book because it is extremely hard to work around the binding in scanning any book let alone one the size of St. Nicholas and Illustrated Magazine for Young Folk.
The text in the picture is tilted to the right you can see how much closer the the text is to the binding at he top of the page compared to the bottom. While the little bit of text you can see on the right page is pretty much parallel it is still farther away from the binding than any part of the text from the left side. One of the other things that stood out to me was that the two editions of the magazine I have been looking at came with little pieces of paper that did not belong to the original book. There was a separate poem included called “Comp’ny’s Coming” by Harriet Francene Crocker in the second edition and a piece of scrap paper where some one who had been looking at the magazine tried to sketch a cross from a list of instructions given in the magazine itself.
This led me to consider what I think might have stood out as the largest difference between the two versions,St. Nicholas and Illustrated Magazine for Young Folk is meant to be an interactive magazine. Kids kept these copies with them for a minimum of six months at a time and would most likely keep other pieces of literature or entertainment in between the pages as well as draw and write in the book itself. TO put all the text on a computer screen takes so much away from what a hard copy of the magazine offers a young girl or boy.