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mtnmedic
Late for dinner
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Reged: 11/09/04

Loc: Antelope, Oregon
Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital
      #3901839 - 07/04/10 07:43 AM

Hi,

I'm a lifelong amateur astronomer and a big fan of the much-beloved Burnham's Celestial Handbook. What a treasure trove of information and great reading! I bought it when it first came out and I continue to read it this very day.

I've looked everywhere for an electronic copy of this fabulous book, in any format. Sadly, nothing of the sort seems to exist. Like several other books and references, I have wanted to put Burnham's Celestial Handbook onto my ebook reader and now my iPad, which I use in conjunction with my telescopes.

Because I haven't found anything, I'm engaging a project to put the Handbook into electronic format; PDF, epub and/or otherwise. However, this is copyrighted material and I know, being the owner of copyrighted materials, there are legalities involved. I would love nothing more than to publish and sell this as an ebook, from which proceeds could sent to the Burnham family, a charity or group closely associated with Robert. For me, it would be a labor of love, a celebration of the man, his life and his works.

I think a digital edition of the Handbook would be very popular, especially in this day of notebooks, laptops, e-readers and iPads. But how to go about implementing it into the publishing circles? I thought to contact someone who has current ownership of the copyright to this material to see if I could get the okay to conduct such a project and market it accordingly.

Another thing that I have thought about is that I remember hearing about Brian Skiff, of Lowell Observatory, and his work to update the Handbook, which he undertook back in 1996. I haven't heard anything of this project since. I can only fathom to guess such a venture to be overwhelming, if not daunting. I personally think the Handbook, as we all know it-with all of its imperfections-is just fine as it is. And rightfully so; it's literally a work of art. Therefore, going forward in my project, I would just be doing a straight transition of the material into digital form, without attempting any updates to the written material. Perhaps I could update some of the photos.

I'd like to get some input from folks here regarding this. Any leads for information, tips, suggestions, comments concerns and so forth would be most appreciated.

Sometimes I pick up one of the volumes and flip the pages, thinking..."My God...what am I getting myself into?"

Then I look at the very first page before the title page and preface of Volume Three, which contains a photo of the night sky framed by the dark silhouettes of tall trees accompanied by the following passage:

"O Night, sweet through sombre space of time...
All things find rest upon their journey's end-
Our cares thou canst to quietude sublime;
For dews and darkness are of peace the friend."
-Michelangelo.


Indeed.

Edited by mtnmedic (07/04/10 07:48 AM)


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Reverie
sage


Reged: 03/27/08

Loc: Somewhere far far away
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: mtnmedic]
      #3901877 - 07/04/10 08:24 AM

I can find only electronic copy via google books. It is the only way for me to have a look to the book.

I have no idea why the book never been reprinted after late 1970s, making the books almost unavailable or unknown to many people.

As the book is so legendary any reprint will surely become the best-selling of the decade. I can think only that the copyright issue is too complex making any new edition impossible.


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mtnmedic
Late for dinner
*****

Reged: 11/09/04

Loc: Antelope, Oregon
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: Reverie]
      #3901905 - 07/04/10 08:50 AM

I agree with your observation regarding the stature of the book. It is my dream to bring it back to light so that people can fall in love with it all over again and others can discover it.

I'm going to have to look this up via google books to see what you found. I was able to find it as a rapidshare download in PDF format but it turned out to be image scans of the book, binding and all. Therefore, the quality was not that great and certainly nothing that was searchable, indexable or comfortable for long-period reading.

I wrote to Dover (the publisher) explaining my project and expressing my thoughts. Hopefully, I can get somewhere with them on it.

Edited by mtnmedic (07/04/10 08:51 AM)


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BobinKy
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Reged: 04/27/07

Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: mtnmedic]
      #3902032 - 07/04/10 10:38 AM

Guys...

Reading a digital copy of Burnham's Celestial Handbook is like eating a digital photograph of a nice steak. Just not the same.


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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: mtnmedic]
      #3902133 - 07/04/10 11:52 AM

Maybe not a bad idea. Dover owns the rights, though, and as you suppose would have to agree.

Mssr. Skiff gave up on updating _Burnham's_ quite some time back due to a variety of reasons, most involving the publisher, I recall.

Me? I don't think it needs updating any more than _The Friendly Stars_ does.


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: Reverie]
      #3902139 - 07/04/10 11:55 AM

Quote:

I can find only electronic copy via google books. It is the only way for me to have a look to the book.

I have no idea why the book never been reprinted after late 1970s, making the books almost unavailable or unknown to many people.

As the book is so legendary any reprint will surely become the best-selling of the decade. I can think only that the copyright issue is too complex making any new edition impossible.




Not the case. Burnham's is in print and easily available from Amazon.com.


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Crusader
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 08/14/05

Loc: Prince Albert, South Africa
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: rmollise]
      #3902151 - 07/04/10 12:03 PM

Quote:

Not the case. Burnham's is in print and easily available from Amazon.com.




Yes, it's definitely still available. I bought the 3 volume set about a month ago. Brand new in paperback. It wasn't from Amazon, and if I remember correctly each volume was about $19 or so.


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helpwanted
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Reged: 07/04/07

Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: Crusader]
      #3902209 - 07/04/10 12:37 PM

i've seen brand new perfect condition hardbacks in used book stores for $10 each... pleanty to be found.

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blb
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Reged: 11/25/05

Loc: Piedmont NC
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: Reverie]
      #3902211 - 07/04/10 12:39 PM

Quote:

I have no idea why the book never been reprinted after late 1970s, making the books almost unavailable or unknown to many people.




Evidently it is still in print. They keep a set on the shelves at our Borders Book store. It is also available from Amazon.

Buddy


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BobinKy
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Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: mtnmedic]
      #3902242 - 07/04/10 12:59 PM

I have been thinking of your willingness to do something to create a digital update to Burnham's Celestial Handbook. Perhaps developing a digital index would be something you might like to attempt. Another classic observing guide that could use an index is Chet Raymo's 365 Starry Nights.

. . .

Is anybody familiar with the issues (copyright and otherwise) of developing and publishing a digital file of an index for a book in print?


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bkruschwitz
sage
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Reged: 04/15/09

Loc: Waco, TX
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: mtnmedic]
      #3902712 - 07/04/10 06:34 PM

Michael,

According to the copyright page of Burnham's Celestial Handbooks, Dover Publications did not own the copyright, Mr. Burnham did. (The original version of the handbook was self-published.)

As I understand the 1976 Copyright law, because Burnham's 1966 copyright was in its first term (i.e., had not been extended yet) when he filed an extension in 1978, his copyright will last for 67 years beyond 1978 (i.e., until 2045).

Mr. Burnham died in 1993. The copyright might have been part of his estate, and it would take some detective work to locate the executor of the copyright now. Perhaps Dover Publications knows who controls the copyright, but I doubt it; Dover does not need to know, because they must have had a contract with Mr. Burnham permitting them to publish the handbook.

Nevertheless, I would start by sending an email to Dover asking if their contract with Mr. Burhnam gave them exclusive rights to publish the handbook in the U.S. If it did not and Dover has non-exclusive rights, then you might locate and get permission from the current executor of the Burnham estate to do an ebook publication.

Best wishes and good luck on this!
Bob


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Reverie
sage


Reged: 03/27/08

Loc: Somewhere far far away
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: rmollise]
      #3903153 - 07/04/10 11:20 PM

Quote:


Not the case. Burnham's is in print and easily available from Amazon.com.




I was told that the book was no longer in print and recently a reputable stargazer passed away, leaving 3 volumes and were sold at $56.5.

Anyway the shipping fee must be very high.


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Crusader
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 08/14/05

Loc: Prince Albert, South Africa
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: Reverie]
      #3903472 - 07/05/10 05:39 AM

The $19 I paid per book included free shipping.

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Reverie
sage


Reged: 03/27/08

Loc: Somewhere far far away
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: Crusader]
      #3903485 - 07/05/10 06:24 AM

Quote:

The $19 I paid per book included free shipping.




I know there is free shipping for those living in US and Canada. I don't know there is free shipping for those living in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China.


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Crusader
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 08/14/05

Loc: Prince Albert, South Africa
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: Reverie]
      #3903522 - 07/05/10 07:30 AM

Reverie, I ordered mine from www.bookdepository.com They offer free shipping worldwide. Their prices are slightly more expensive than Amazon, but once you add the shipping costs they are much cheaper.

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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: bkruschwitz]
      #3903618 - 07/05/10 09:30 AM

Quote:

Michael,

According to the copyright page of Burnham's Celestial Handbooks, Dover Publications did not own the copyright,




You'd have to research it to be sure, but I am under the _impression_ Burnham relinquished his rights. I know for sure he took many advances on royalties when he fell on hard times (nothing wrong with that).


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WOBentley
Deep Sky Denizen
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Reged: 09/16/09

Loc: Pacific Northwest USA
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: rmollise]
      #3903796 - 07/05/10 11:27 AM

If you do get this off the ground I'd be interested in it, especially in the e-pub format...
Love reading the hard copies, but it would be fun to take this with me to star parites etc. on my e-book (I own the "Nook" version)and much more "packing space friendly"


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mtnmedic
Late for dinner
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Reged: 11/09/04

Loc: Antelope, Oregon
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: BobinKy]
      #3904053 - 07/05/10 01:44 PM

Quote:

Guys...

Reading a digital copy of Burnham's Celestial Handbook is like eating a digital photograph of a nice steak. Just not the same.




True, but thats really the same for reading ANY great classic in electronic format. But let's face it, ebooks ARE a wave of the future (paper books will be around for a very, very long time...just not as many, I would suspect. I LOVE my iPad but I'll always have a few favourite books around).

In today's world, ACCESSIBILITY is the key in getting people to consume media. Ebooks are a but only another means of access to literature and creative works. I'd rather someone read an ebook than NO book at all. By this, I see the possibility that Burnham's Celestial Handbook could once again see the light of day and get exposure to a whole new generation of readers who are interested in astronomy that have ebook readers and iPads.

This book is for the ages and we can all agree it's a timeless classic that deserves reading, even if we have to tear the pages out and tack them up onto a bulletin board.


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mtnmedic
Late for dinner
*****

Reged: 11/09/04

Loc: Antelope, Oregon
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: BobinKy]
      #3904056 - 07/05/10 01:45 PM

Quote:

I have been thinking of your willingness to do something to create a digital update to Burnham's Celestial Handbook. Perhaps developing a digital index would be something you might like to attempt. Another classic observing guide that could use an index is Chet Raymo's 365 Starry Nights.

. . .

Is anybody familiar with the issues (copyright and otherwise) of developing and publishing a digital file of an index for a book in print?




That's something I'm certainly considering.


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mtnmedic
Late for dinner
*****

Reged: 11/09/04

Loc: Antelope, Oregon
Re: Burnham's Celestial Handbook - Digital new [Re: bkruschwitz]
      #3904065 - 07/05/10 01:49 PM

Quote:

Michael,

According to the copyright page of Burnham's Celestial Handbooks, Dover Publications did not own the copyright, Mr. Burnham did. (The original version of the handbook was self-published.)

As I understand the 1976 Copyright law, because Burnham's 1966 copyright was in its first term (i.e., had not been extended yet) when he filed an extension in 1978, his copyright will last for 67 years beyond 1978 (i.e., until 2045).

Mr. Burnham died in 1993. The copyright might have been part of his estate, and it would take some detective work to locate the executor of the copyright now. Perhaps Dover Publications knows who controls the copyright, but I doubt it; Dover does not need to know, because they must have had a contract with Mr. Burnham permitting them to publish the handbook.

Nevertheless, I would start by sending an email to Dover asking if their contract with Mr. Burhnam gave them exclusive rights to publish the handbook in the U.S. If it did not and Dover has non-exclusive rights, then you might locate and get permission from the current executor of the Burnham estate to do an ebook publication.

Best wishes and good luck on this!
Bob




2045, eh? Well, I'll be 89 then. Still gives me some time.

I've already started the detective work, so to speak. And I've already written to Dover. Hopefully, we'll see something come from that. While the work I am doing on it is time-consuming, methinks the hard part will certainly be this bit in copyright and publishing.


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