Free the Loebs! A letter to Harvard

by

Jeffrey Henderson
General Editor
The Loeb Classical Library
Harvard University Press

Dear Classicist,

Your Loeb Classical Library has served both scholars and dilettantes well for more than a century. The Library is the principal repository for a direct window on our ancestors in the ancient world in their own words. Red for Latin, green for Greek.

We have noted with great interest your announcement of The Digital Loeb Classical Library in Fall 2014 here: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/features/loeb/digital.html.

Of your current 520 Loeb titles, more than 300 have reverted to the public domain, copyrights expired. These volumes have been digitised into electronic form by Google Books and other world libraries. In turn, along with personal scanning these Loeb e-books have been made into torrents for download in their hundreds using BitTorrent clients, posted to personal websites for download, and uploaded to Scribd.com and Archive.org as well as upload sites such as Mediafire.

I have reported on this phenomenon extensively on my own website “latinforeveryone.wordpress.com.” This labour-intensive digitisation effort represents a lot of love on the part of your readers.

A recent 478 unread Loeb collection sold on eBay for $100 each, more than four times the purchase price from Amazon.

We think HUP should digitise all Loeb volumes which are out of copyright and make them available for download for free. We think HUP should digitise the remaining titles and offer them for purchase as e-books for a nominal sum—I think $10 sounds about right.

HUP has never made its Loeb sales public but we doubt very much such an Internet effort would result in any sales loss.

Free the Loebs!

 

Classically,

CJ Hinke
Thammasat University
Bangkok

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