Topics of interest

TalkHistory of the Book

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Topics of interest

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1benjclark First Message
Jan 29, 2007, 9:05am

Well, what is your interest in the history of the book? Mine can be summed up: everything 19th Century, especially in the western US. Printing, Binding, Publishing, Bookselling, etc.

Jan 29, 2007, 10:48pm

I really enjoy looking at the pages and studying the typography layouts. It's really fun to see what conventions, letterforms and rules came into play when.

I also like the publishing side of 'book history'. I think it's fascinating to see what was published when, why it was published, who published it, how it was recieved, etc.

Jan 30, 2007, 8:41am

I like thinking how different a reading experience would have been to read Dickens as a serialization in a periodical instead of a one volume work. Not sure if this counts as strictly history of the book, but I'm interested in how the physical properties of a book affect it's reception by an audience. E.G. the oxford world classics series signifies student use and may put some off, however if the book was patterned with a good cover this may change.

Aug 15, 2008, 10:09pm

My interest is in the history of libraries.

Aug 16, 2008, 5:47am

My main interest still is printing in the 17th century, but now that I'm working in a historical library I'm finding that the history of our collection in the 19th-20th centuries is becoming a much more important topic. Mainly because I have a very direct access to the sources, of course. As a curator I also have to be generalistic, so in practice I'll read anything - 20th century bindings, 5th century Koptic scriptoria, readers in a digital environment, ...

Aug 17, 2008, 12:18pm

My library reflects that I'm interested in practically all aspects of the history of the book.

I enjoy reading books about the history of publishing houses and biographies of their publishers. Almost every publishing house has published a book about its first hundred years. Some houses update its history every fifty years. You can find books about the lives of publishers from William Strahan, to the first James Murray, to Henry Holt, to F.N. Doubleday.

I also enjoy reading books about booksellers. In the late 1800s, Henry Curwen wrote a book on English booksellers, The History of Booksellers, The Old and The New.. There is a festshrift of historical essays written for Robin Myers in The Book Trade & Its Customers 1450-1900.. Boynton's book, Annals of American Bookselling 1638-1850 and Mondlin & Meador's book, Book Row will whet your appetite for reading about American booksellers in the days of yesteryear. I should include A.SW. Rosenbach's books by and about him, particularly the biography by Wolf and Fleming.

A. Edward Newton will entertain you with his stories about book collecting, as will William Targ, Eugene Field, Nicholas Basbanes and others. I particularly enjoy reading about book collectors who collected the same authors I did. Luther Brewer admired Leigh Hunt's works long before I did, and wrote several books about Hunt and his books, publishing a book every Christmas for his friends. I have many of them. In his anecdotal stories, A. Edward Newton frequently mentioned the Samuel Johnson books that he collected, which I also collect. Donald and Mary Hyde, more recent Samuel Johnson collectors, bought quite a few of Newton's Samuel Johnson books at the auction sale of his library in the 1940s. I, in turn, have a shelf or two of books from the Four Oaks Library of Donald and Mary Hyde, but not their Samuel Johnson books; those books went to Harvard.

The history of libraries interests me, particularly the history of the Library of Congress. I have two early catalogues of the LOC, several books about the LOC itself, and a shelf full of Annual Reports of the Librarian of Congress, seemingly boring annual reports of the status of the LOC, but manna for one inquisitive about its acquisitions. If you were going to buy just one copy of these annual reports, I would recommend buying the report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1946. This volumes contains "The Story Up To Now," a 214 page history of the Library of Congress.

I can go on and on. I haven't mentioned my strongest interest, bibliography, or my weakest interest, typography, not to mention bookbinding, bookplates, or periodicals pertaining to book collecting. I will save them for another day.

Aug 18, 2008, 1:41pm

I've been fortunate enough to have the San Francisco Center of the Book nearby where I have been taking some bookbinding classes.

Nov 26, 2008, 10:30am

I love antique books. It's amazing to read about your favourite topic on a book printed hundreds of years ago. I'd love to read something about history of books, can you suggest a book for beginners. Since I own a few old/antique books it would also be helpful to read something about the best way to take care of them.

Mar 3, 2009, 11:40pm

The Gutenberg galaxy by Marshall McLuhan. University of Toronto Press, 1962. A fascinating story of the impact that books had on society.