DIGITAL TOOLS. Lesson #39: Scrivener
From the day I got my first word processor in 1980, I wanted something like Scrivener [pronounced SCRIVner]. Scrivener lets you compile facts, ideas, and paragraphs in separate files, and then piece them together for final publication.
After 1982, when Microsoft DOS became the most used operating system, three word processors were always rated the best: WordPerfect, Word, and Nota Bene. They all sold for $495, which is $1,100 in today’s money. But hardly anyone had heard of Nota Bene. Here is Wikipedia’s description.
Nota Bene (NB) began as a DOS program in 1982, built on the engine of the word processor XyWrite. Its creator, Steven Siebert, then a doctoral student in philosophy and religious studies at Yale, used a PC to take reading notes, but had no easy computer-based mechanism for searching through them, or for finding relationships and connections in the material. He wanted a word processor with an integrated ‘textbase’, to automate finding text with Boolean searches, and an integrated bibliographical database that would automate the process of entering repeat citations correctly, and be easy to change for submission to publishers with different style-manual requirements.
Siebert licensed XyWrite code from the XyQuest company, and built his programs on it: the word processor Nota Bene, with its textbase Orbis (then called Textbase), and its bibliographical database Ibidem (then called Ibid). He founded Dragonfly Software to market it. He first showed Nota Bene at the MLA convention of December 1982.
It was a program designed by a scholar for scholars. It still sells for $400. I know of no other 30-year-old piece of commercial software that sells for this much. If I were going to become a scholar today, I would buy Nota Bene. It has proven its value for a long time.
But Scrivener is almost as good. It sells for $45 (Mac) or $40 (Windows).
Download the free trial version: http://www.literatureandlatte.com. Then write a 150-word paper using at least three documents you have stored in Scrivener. Topic: “How to Use Scrivener to Write a Term Paper.” Read at least three reviews here.