Iberian Books (IB) is the product of a three year research project based at the Centre for the History of the Media at University College Dublin. It offers a short-title catalogue of around 19,900 bibliographically distinct items, with reference to over 104,000 surviving copies in 1,320 libraries worldwide. It represents the first modern attempt to produce a comprehensive listing of all books published in Spain, Portugal and Mexico or printed elsewhere in Spanish or Portuguese during the first great age of the printed book, 1472-1600. Bibliographical Landscape In April 1975, Don Cruickshank delivered a paper to the Bibliographical Society in London that was at once insightful and provocative. Cruickshank lamented that Golden Age bibliography in Spain lagged behind that of other European nations and was only slowly emerging from a 'long dark tunnel' -- a fact he attributed, at least in part, to the impact of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). A distinguished and talented literary scholar and analytical bibliographer, Cruickshank criticised what he saw as an unwelcome tendency in the field towards systematic bibliography focused narrowly on particular holdings. The culture of early modern printing on the Peninsula, he argued, could only be revealed through close analytical inspection of works, forensically exploiting evidence such as type and typographical ornamentation. Any straightforward listing of items gleaned from inventories and catalogues is insufficient, for it cannot reveal publishing practices such as the joint involvement of a consortium of printers, but where only one printer is stated on the title page or in the colophon. Without physical inspection of items, false dates on reprinted editions cannot properly be discovered and works without stated places of publication can be erroneously described. Only through examination can the true origins of a work be identified. In short, without careful analytical attention to the book as a physical artefact, Cruickshank argued, scholars are at risk of being presented with a 'distorted picture' of publishing on the peninsula. While many of these cautions remain as relevant in 2010 as they were in 1975, few could dispute that Iberian bibliography has come a long way since the publication of Cruickshank's clarion call. In 1978, the Cambridge bibliographer Frederick John Norton (1904-1986) produced his milestone Descriptive Catalogue of Printing in Spain and Portugal which spanned the period from 1501 to 1520. More recently, over the past two decades, many late nineteenth century bibliographies have been updated, while new analytical catalogues of printing centres and offices have been published, such as Julían Martín Abad's La Imprenta en Alcalá de Henares (1502-1600), Lorenzo Ruiz Fidalgo's La imprenta en Salamanca (1501-1600), and Clive Griffin's The Crombergers of Seville. To date, Iberian bibliography has proceeded principally by surveying many --though not all - of the Peninsula's multiple centres of publication. On the one hand, the adoption of such an approach has been eminently sensible. By focusing on the output of cities such as Salamanca or Burgos or Alcalá de Henares, bibliographers have been in a position to concentrate their expertise on manageable numbers of editions and copies. They have often been able to exploit their specialist knowledge, in particular by using archival and other resources in their quest for references to editions or states which existed but which have now been lost. We have now reached a point, however, where the single most important structural problem facing our understanding of the book world of the Iberian Peninsula is not the absence of adequate bibliographical investigation, but the lack of an evolving national short-title catalogue that might serve as a showcase for its findings. It is truly staggering that there has been no previous attempt to produce a short-title catalogue for Spain, while the catalogue of Portuguese books published in the sixteenth century compiled by Antonio Joaquim Anselmo (1876-1925) has not been updated since 1926. In consequence, scholars of Spain and Portugal have been forced to confront a highly fragmented picture of publishing on the Peninsula, exploiting disparate catalogues of collections, of places of publication or of printing houses. Besides the obvious practical problems facing those wishing to gain the most basic list of all works by a given author, the absence of an STC has also led to fundamental difficulties in visualising the broader landscape of Iberian publishing. Until the publication of IB, it would have been virtually impossible to gain a reliable indication of how many books were produced in this period, let along an understanding of how the industry of print evolved over the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The fragmentation that is so characteristic of Iberian bibliography has been alleviated, at least in part, by the relatively recent appearance of major online collective catalogues of Spain and Portugal's major research collections - the Catálogo Colectivo del Patrimonio Bibliográfico Español and Porbase. Nor can we fail to mention the Heritage of the Printed Book Database (formerly the Hand Press Book database) managed by the Consortium of European Research Libraries. Such initiatives - the products of industrious, dedicated and skilled scholarship - have made profound contributions to our understanding of the print culture of the Iberian Peninsula. However, collective catalogues of this nature are not without their problems, a consequence of their very purpose and scope. Collective catalogues are not intended to perform the same function as short-title catalogues. They deal with vast amounts of information drawn from different evolving library catalogues. There is often a high degree of automation in the way in which records are incorporated into the central interface. Without the equivalent of ISBN numbers or other unique identifiers, this leads to duplication of records. Rather than additional copy information being added to existing records, new items are all too often created. Collective catalogues are, therefore, wholly unreliable for the purposes of statistical analysis. More fundamentally, collective catalogues limit their gathering of information to a defined number of collections -- in the case of the Catálogo Colectivo and Porbase to some but not all libraries in Spain and Portugal, and in the case of the Hand Press Books Project, to a selection of national research collections. Short-title catalogues, on the other hand, adopt a very different methodology by actively pursuing a global census of works. The various collective catalogues outlined above -- once combined -- record only around one half of all the items listed in IB. Excerpted from IB - Iberian Books / Libros Ibéricos by Alexander S. Wilkinson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.