It will be virtually indistinguishable from the government's Stat Abstract, except for the title ("ProQuest Statistical Abstract") and its size (8 1/2 inches by 11 inches versus 6 inches by 9 inches) - the bigger size making the tables about 25 percent larger and easier to read.
Otherwise, it contains virtually all the tables in last year's edition, plus some new ones on child obesity, same-sex households and home mortgages, said Bruce Samuelson, Bernan's director of marketing and library services.
(Honest: Bruce Samuelson and I are not related. We've only talked on the phone, and before that, I'd never heard of him.)
About a tenth of the tables are separately copyrighted and some are prepared especially for the Stat Abstract. Copyright permission was secured for more than 90 percent of these tables, Samuelson said.
The ultimate saviors of the Stat Abstract were the nation's librarians. They use it heavily as a reference book, and many were outraged by Census' decision.
Samuelson participated in a panel discussion on the Stat Abstract at last January's meeting of the American Library Association. This proved the catalyst to form the partnership with ProQuest, which was also on the panel and would provide statistical specialists to gather the tables and verify their accuracy.
"It's a really difficult challenge," said Samuelson. "It would cost a lot of money. Could we do it justice, and would libraries be willing to pay for it, because we are not being subsidized?"
The price for the hardcover is $179, up from the government's $40 (paperback) and $44 (hardcover). The online version will no longer be free, though tables will be updated more frequently.
ProQuest sells heavily to colleges and universities; subscription prices for online access to the data vary according to school size.
So the Stat Abstract's reprieve could be temporary. Its fate depends on whether the market will support what the government won't.