The seventh edition of the MLA Handbook, released in March 2009, is the first edition to be available on a Web site as well as in print. I would like to address the questions that some of you have raised about the lack of a site license in our current business model.
In developing the seventh edition, we consulted students, teachers, and librarians to learn about their needs. The consultations showed that the MLA Handbook should remain a product primarily for individual purchase and use by students. Instructors—MLA members—told us that they wanted students to have a print volume at hand in the classroom. Many students also valued the print version, for portable reference and for reading sequentially. At the same time, everyone wanted the benefits of an online version, such as searchability, extra content, handy access on the Web, and easy display to groups of learners. The seventh edition fills these needs by providing the Web component to each purchaser of a new copy.
During the consultations, librarians often reminded us of their strained budgets. This concern made it clear that offering site licenses for the new edition was not feasible at present. The model of selling individual copies to students at a modest price ($22 for this edition) has worked well for the educational community, allowing the MLA to provide information broadly while recovering the costs of doing so.
We are eager to tailor the MLA Handbook to the evolving uses of students, teachers, and librarians. We will continue to consult with you to discover how this publication can serve you better. I welcome your comments and suggestions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Rosemary G. Feal
Modern Language Association