Contentville is the brainchild of Steve Brill publisher, of Brill's Content and creator of Court TV. The purpose of this site is to provide access, for a fee, to the content of books, magazines and other resources, and to provide commentary on the publishing and media industries. Materials for purchase are arranged into twelve categories: study guides (CliffsNotes(tm)), dissertations (via UMI's Dissertation Abstracts(r) database), magazines (links to subscription sites, not the full-text), e-books (in Microsoft Reader format), screenplays, books, "hard-to-find" books (provided in partnership with online bookseller Alibris), legal documents, speeches, archives, transcripts, and newsletters. The category labeled "Archives" is an article database, providing access to "nearly 2,000 publications."
The real onsite content (read: free) at this site are reports, essays, reviews, interviews, and critiques written by the cadre of "experts" (journalists, cultural critics, academics, and independent bookstore owners) such as David Halberstam, Sherman Alexie, Anita Hill and Susan Gubar. These writers provide commentary and advice on topics ranging from the lowdown on fashion magazines to a critique of Madeleine Albright's PhD dissertation.
Categories at Contentville can be searched by keyword or browsed. The "Cross-Content Search" provides the ability to search all resources by topic. The "Advanced Search" allows searching by keyword, author, title, publisher, subject, content type, price range, and ISBN. Boolean, phrase, and proximity searching is available. A search cannot be done by date of publication, which is unfortunate if you are looking for the latest books on a subject.
It should be noted that some of the items found here are also available elsewhere on the Internet for free. For instance, Patrick Buchanan's speech, "A Den of Thieves," can be downloaded from Contentville for $1.95. However, by going directly to the Patrick Buchanan campaign web site it can be downloaded at no charge.
Having this content, or at least access to content, in one place may be a convenient albeit potentially expensive alternative for those without the time or research skills needed to find these resources elsewhere. The insider commentaries on the media may be of interest to business, journalism, and media students.
Robert L. Battenfeld
Long Island University