Books in Print Plus as a Tool for Analyzing U.S. In-Print Monographs

Article excerpt

Books in Print Plus as a Tool for Analyzing U.S. In-Print Monographs

The spring 1988 version of the Books in Print Plus (BIP Plus) CD-ROM

database is explored in detail to determine (1) the broad characteristics,

in terms of language, price, publication date, etc., of the material

currently in print in the U.S. book trade; and (2) the value of BIP Plus asa

tool for answering complex questions and testing specific hypotheses

concerning the book trade. This exploratory study discusses a number of

problems involved in searching the BIP Plus database but concludes it

offers much potential as a research tool.

The CD-ROM format has rapidly emerged within recent years.[1] Books in Print Plus (henceforth abbreviated BIP Plus), which was released in November 1986, is one of the better-known products. It combines all the bibliographical entries from Books in Print, Subject Guide to Books in Print, Forthcoming Books, Subject Guide to Forthcoming Books, and Children's Books in Print. The versatile search strategies for accessing its database render BIP Plus a powerful tool for analyzing, in a variety of ways, the universe of in-print monographs available to American acquisitions librarians. Becker, Demas, Holloway, Anderson, Desmarais, Mead, and Beiser have reviewed BIP Plus, while Hagan has depicted its use in a specific library.[2-9] Brooks has described the version of BIP Plus customized for the Ingram ordering service.[10]

BIP Plus is created from Bowker's BIPS (Bibliographic Instruction Publication System) database--the same one used to produce the aforementioned hard copy products. Begun in 1948 and computerized in the late 1960s, BIPS includes all books published or exclusively distributed in the United States except Bibles and other sacred books, periodicals and serials, pamphlets, unbound material, music manuscripts, librettos, song books, and sheet music. Books not available for sale to the book trade or the general public as well as subscription-only titles are excluded. Finally, free books, puzzles, cartoons, cutouts, coloring books, maps, appointment books, audiovisuals, and microformat material are not included unless they accompany a book for sale.[11]

BIP Plus can be searched by author, title, subject, children's subject, publisher, series title, keyword, ISBN, LCCN, language, price, publication year, audience, grade level, and illustration, plus combination author/title searches as on OCLC.[12] Boolean searches using the familiar AND, OR, and NOT operators are also possible,[13] resulting in a sophisticated search strategy. The data reported here were compiled on the spring 1988 version, using a dual-floppy IBM PC operating on DOS 3.20 with 512 K, attached to a Hitachi 2500-S CD-ROM drive unit.

The article's objective is twofold: (1) to depict the broad characteristics of the in-print items available in the U.S. book trade and (2) to evaluate the accuracy and potential of BIP Plus as a tool for generating data and testing hypotheses concerning the book trade.

Publication Year Searches

The search strategy "py = n" will retrieve the number of entries from a specific year, while the "greater than" ([is greater than]) or "less than" ([is less than]) symbols will retrieve entries published before or after a particular date.[14] The number of items available from a century or a decade can be calculated through a right truncated search strategy, e.g., "py = 16$" for the 1600s and "py = 196$" for the 1960s. The strategy "py = 9999" identifies entries without a publication date.

Year-by-year search results for the twentieth century are presented in table 1. (The data for 1988 do not represent the year's complete output as they were compiled in mid-year.) The greatest number of books is available for the most recent years. The figures taper off for earlier dates. A significant number of books was retrieved for every year of the twentieth century, with the smallest number being 105 for the year 1906. …