05 August 2010

Book: Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World

The five-volume printed set of the "Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World" is now available in print and online ... for a price.

The "Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World" (EJIW) covers an area of Jewish history, religion, and culture which until now has lacked a specific reference work. It attempts to fill the gap in academic reference literature on the Jews of Muslim lands, particularly in the late medieval, early modern and modern periods.


-- The only reference work of its kind: up-to-date research and bibliographies make it indispensable for all levels of users.

-- 350-plus internationally-renowned scholars from North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

-- 250-plus color and black and white illustrations, graphs, and maps.

-- 2200-plus entries and 1.5 million words.

-- four volumes plus a resource and index volume.

There is also an online version as of July 2010; email for pricing. The online version will be updated - in 2011 and 2012 - with additional thousands of photographs, audio files and primary sources.

Additional information is available here. The set includes four volumes plus a resource and Index volume.

The editorial board includes:

-- Executive Editor Norman A. Stillman
-- Al-Andalus: Angel Saenz-Badillos
-- Medieval Arabic-Speaking World: Meira Polliack
-- Modern Arabic-Speaking World: Daniel Schroeter, Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman
-- Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey: Avigdor Levy, Yaron Ayalon (associate editor)
-- Persia, Modern Iran, Kurdistan, Caucasus and Central Asia: Vera Basch Moreen

According to Brill's description of the readership for this work:
The EJIW is first and foremost a reference work destined for a post-graduate audience. However, the Encyclopedia should be accessible to the informed general reader and university undergraduates. For this reason, both topics of classical scholarship and modern themes of an analytic nature will be covered.
While Tracing the Tribe is sure this will be of interest to researchers, this is one set you will want to access in the library, as the US list price is $1,099. Brill's publications are always very expensive. It seems strange that a company that publishes such interesting material thinks that only university professors are interested in its books. If they worked on a lower-price point, more accessible to a much wider community of interested readers, they would sell many more copies.

It reminds me of a very old joke. An old man is selling apples on the street. A passerby stops and asks how much for one. The man answers $100. The passerby remarks on the excessive cost, the man replies, "But I only have to sell one!"

Brill publishes interesting material on many Jewish subjects, including Sephardim and Persian Jews, but it is simply unattainable to the reading audience unless they live near a library that has purchased those books. Such materials should be priced to attract many more readers. While most genealogists are used to paying from $75-100 for books covering our subjects of interest, Brill's price point seems to be in the $200-minimum range. Certainly too pricey for any but university libraries.

This is in addition to an extremely restrictive review copy policy, which usually has the words - I'm paraphrasing here - "our books are very expensive and we don't like to provide review copies." If the books were less expensive..........?

OK, I've come down from my soapbox. Do take a look at the Brill website and see the interesting materials that you may want to add to your never-never wish list or at least until you win the lottery.

Institutions wishing a free trial to the online EJIW should have their librarians contact Brill.

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