In 14 original essays, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book reveals the history of books in all their various forms, from the ancient world to the digital present. Leading international scholars offer an original and richly illustrated narrative that is global in scope. The history of the book is the history of millions of written, printed, and illustrated texts, their manufacture, distribution, and reception.
Here are different types of production, from clay tablets to scrolls, from inscribed codices to printed books, pamphlets, magazines, and newspapers, from written parchment to digital texts. The history of the book is a history of different methods of circulation and dissemination, all dependent on innovations in transport, from coastal and transoceanicshipping to roads, trains, planes and the internet. It is a history of different modes of reading and reception, from learned debate and individual study to public instruction and entertainment.
It is a history of manufacture, craftsmanship, dissemination, reading and debate. Yet the history of books is not simply a question of material form, nor indeed of the history of reading and reception. The larger question is of the effect of textual production, distribution and reception – of how books themselves made history.
To this end, each chapter of this volume, succinctly bounded by period and geography, offers incisive and stimulating insights into the relationship between books and the story of their times.