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ctavo was founded in 1997 by engineer-
entrepreneur and avid book collector, John
Warnock (co-founder and CEO of Adobe
Systems).The company is based in Oakland, California,
and has less than a dozen full-time employees, inclu-
ding editors, imaging specialists, production managers,
and ICT experts. It is led by Czeslaw (`Chet') Jan
Grycz, who joined Octavo as CEO and Publisher in
February 2000.
In the span of a few years Octavo has gained promi-
nence through its acclaimed series of Digital Editions
on CD-ROM of rare books and manuscripts.The list
of digital publications includes, to name just a few,
William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies
(First Folio, London, 1623) from the Folger Shakes-
peare Library; Andrea Palladio's I Quattro Libri dell'
Architettura (Venice, 1570) from the Library of Con-
gress; Andreas Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica
(Basel, 1543) and Isaac Newton's Opticks (London,
1704) from the Warnock Library. A major just-com-
pleted project is the digitisation of the Library of
Congress Biblia Latina, one of three perfect examples,
known today, that were printed on vellum by Johannes
For its Digital Editions, Octavo forms partnerships
with cultural and scientific heritage institutions to make
rare and highly valuable works affordable and accessible
to scholars, students, libraries, educators, bibliophiles, as
well as the everyday book lover. Prices for CD-ROM
Digital Editions range from US$ 19 to 75.
Octavo's Digital Editions come in both `trade' and
`research' versions.The trade editions contain high-
quality digital images of each and every page of a
selected rare book.These editions are enhanced with
authoritative editorial work, English translations (when
appropriate), customised navigation features, and a
variety of print capabilities.They are designed to help
the general reader understand the value and impor-
tance of the rare volume that is featured in the edition.
Octavo's trade editions are provided as either one PDF
file or a set of interlinked PDF files, delivered on CD-
ROM media. Some titles are also available with an
option to download directly to the desktop.The editi-
ons present books from cover to cover, enabling users
to read the text or zoom in to see fine details.
Octavo's research editions contain even higher-reso-
lution images suitable for close magnification, enabling
precise study and analysis.These special research editi-
ons are delivered in JPEG format and are shipped on
multiple CD-ROMs.The file size per image is approx-
imately 120 MB of uncompressed image data, 24-bit
(millions) colour, with embedded ICC colour profile
information.When a trade edition is available it is
shipped, gratis, to any purchaser of a research edition.
One of the techniques pioneered by Octavo is `live
text', an exhaustive species of metadata.`Live text' is a
complete electronic transcript of a work, invisibly
embedded word-for-word `behind' the images of the
original. It allows readers to easily access and search the
entire textual content without requiring the user to go
back and forth between text and image.
Customers have access to and may purchase Octavo
products via subscription, syndication, or pay-per-view.
Through a royalty agreement, partner institutions enjoy
new revenue streams by sharing in any profits genera-
ted by Octavo through products or subscriptions based
on a participating library's original works. A set of the
master source files is, as a matter of policy, given to the
sponsoring library or institution. Octavo protects its
master data for the future by regularly migrating and
renewing storage media to ensure long life and stable
source files.
In an Agreement with Ebrary, a content consolida-
tion company selling access to collections of electronic
titles, Octavo makes its entire collection available as a
`digital rare book room' which is offered on a subscrip-
tion basis to libraries who sign up for Ebrary services.
In June 2001, Octavo and the Research Libraries
Group (RLG) signed a Memorandum of Understan-
ding under which RLG can receive a licence to distri-
bute titles from the Octavo collection in its online
Cultural Materials database, and RLG member libraries
will enjoy cost savings on products and services provi-
ded by Octavo. RLG is a not-for-profit membership
corporation of over 160 universities, libraries, archives,
historical societies, and other cultural and scientific
heritage institutions.With Octavo, it will also jointly
investigate areas of common interest such as metadata
standards, digital image identification and searching,
digital asset management, and issues of intellectual
property rights.
Octavo has another relationship with the UK firm,
Alecto Historical Editions (the publishers of very high-
quality print facsimile editions), and expects to establish
a digitisation laboratory in Europe during 2003.
ctavo initially gained its position as a leading
pioneer in the development of quality
digital publishing systems through designing
and implementing the most advanced and intriguing