The editors of Bryn Mawr Classical Review are delighted to announce the unveiling of a new BMCR web site, http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr. This contains a complete archive of all the reviews and other items (1584 as of this writing) that we have published since our first issue clogged a few dozen e-mail boxes on about this date in 1990. We are the second oldest humanities electronic journal in cyberspace and would gladly have been first but we were scooped by a couple of weeks by John Unsworth and Eyal Amiran of Postmodern Culture.
Our archives have been available on a gopher server from the University of Virginia since 1992 and we now make our leisurely way to the WWW. We have moved slowly in the spirit of BMCR, which has been always to find the lowest-overhead, simplest way to do electronic publishing. (The old gopher site will continue to function indefinitely and all older URLs for pointers to that site should be able to continue.) The new site features several ways (finally) to see our reviews formatted with Greek characters and is in general esthetically more pleasing than the old ASCII gopher site. Comments and suggestions are most welcome: much proofreading remains to be done and we will continue to that over the months to come.
We have enjoyed the interest and support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through this period of change and are grateful to them. We continue to study with interest the long-range prospects for maintaining BMCR as a free service. We are cheap, but there are real costs. Experiments with advertising have been ambiguous, at best, and there is no efficient way to pass along to our users a subscription fee suitable to cover our costs: the irony is that the fee per user would be quite low, almost too low to bother with. But our readers may be encouraged to know that we continue to press to see how to optimize quality while minimizing cost, wherever that bill must eventually be paid.
How many readers? We have about 2500 subscribers at the moment, counting both BMCR and our sister subscription list, BMR [= Bryn Mawr Reviews]. Subscribers to BMR receive both BMCR and TMR, The Medieval Review, which began life as BMMR but now is housed in the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University. Counting readers who come through the Web is harder, but in the most recent month, 253 readers from around the world stopped to look at Julia Gaisser’s 1991 review of Canfora’s The Vanished Library; next in popularity was Martin Bernal’s review of Mary Lefkowitz’s Not Out of Africa, followed closely by Lefkowitz’s response.
One historic development coincides with announcement of the new website: the discontinuation of the print version of BMCR. The print version had its devotees, but they were few in number (fewer than 200 at last count) and the cost and bother of maintaining that publication have become a burden. In recent times, moreover, the paper version has lagged as much as six months behind the e-version for publication of a given review. We are not aware of other learned journals that have both paper and electronic avatars and that have already dispensed with the paper version. It is a course we recommend others consider, but there can be no single decision that all would take in this matter.
The editors restrain their pride at what we have accomplished, with the indispensable collaboration of our editorial board and many contributors, not least because we have a sense that whether we live in times of apocalypse or genesis, or more likely both, the history of scholarship in cyberspace has not yet begun to be made, much less written.
Finally, a couple of expressions of thanks: to our editors, contributors, and readers, of course; to the staff of the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia and our long-time friend and supporter, Kendon Stubbs, Deputy University Librarian, for patient housing of our gopher site these many years — worthy recipient this last month of the University of Virginia’s highest award for meritorious service to the University, recipient in the footsteps of people like Dumas Malone and Fredson Bowers; to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for support and interest; to David Smith of the Perseus Project, John Price-Wilkin of the Humanities Text Initiative of the University of Michigan, and Kenneth McFarlane of the University of Pennsylvania for technical support in making the web site possible; and to a regiment of student workers through the years …