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History of the Book: some introductory reading

Preparatory reading matter for the Method Option ‘Palaeography, History of the Book, Digital Humanities’ focussing on general introductions to book history which are easily available via SOLO. Updated version of a commented list compiled by Nigel F. Palmer; in chronological order of first publication. For Oxford students: This is available as a hyperlinked list on ORLO (Oxford Reading Lists Online).
A good online and more comprehensive list is that of the American Institute for Rare Books: https://rarebookschool.org/

Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford, 1972; new ed. 2002).
As its sub-title says ‘The classic manual of bibliography’ – and that’s still true

Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1979). Online available. A classic study of the influence of printing on European thought and culture BUT to be read in conjunction with the review by Paul Needham (January 1980) in: Fine Print. VI (1): 23–35.

The Book History Reader, ed. David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery (Routledge, 2002, 22006).
Useful collection of essays, from a ‘cultural studies’ angle; the editors ignore entirely the bibliographical and textological origins of the subject; contains extensive further bibliography.

The Book. A Global History, ed. Michael F. Suarez and Henry Woudhuysen (Oxford, 2013). Updated concise version of OUP’s 2010 Oxford Companion to the Book (available online), including questions such as copyright, censorship, electronic books, also featuring Muslim world, Asia, and Latin America. Featuring a number of Oxford authors such as a chapter on 15 century booktrade by Cristina Dondi.

The Broadview introduction to book history, ed. by Michelle Levy and Tom Mole (2017). Comprehensive volume.

Materielle Aspekte der Inkunabelforschung, ed. Christoph Reske and Wolfgang Schmitz (Wolfen­büttel, 2017). Up-to-date collection of essays, half of them (on graphic design, format and paper size, typesetting and printing, bookbinding) in English.

Christopher de Hamel, Making Medieval Manuscripts (Oxford, 2018). Entertaining, illustrated & affordable general introduction by a manuscript specialist who also worked as book dealer.

Reading Books and Prints as Cultural Objects, ed. Evanghelia Stead (Palgrave, 2018)
Collection of essays highlighting the material turn in book history up to e-readers with a good introduction on the significance of books as cultural objects. Online available.

Sarah Werner, Studying early printed books, 1450-1800: a practical guide (2019). Essential reading for terminology and basic information about printing processes. Online available. 

A companion to the history of the book, ed. Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose (22020). Two-volume comprehensive survey starting from clay tablets though with a historical focus on Britain. Online available.

Online Resources 

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