Your favourite book history book

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Your favourite book history book

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Nov 2, 2008, 3:32 pm

Trying to get some life in this dormant group with such an interesting topic.

What is your favourite book on the history of the book? Be careful, you could get lynched for saying Principles of Bibliographical Description ;-)

I admit that I haven't read a lot, but Robert Darntons The Business of Enlightenment was a great read. Very insightful but also exciting and funny, at times it almost read like a novel.

Nov 3, 2008, 10:26 am

Too often it's whatever I've recently finished. I really enjoyed The Library at Night. Not exactly a history of the book, but quite insightful and Alberto Manguel, so enjoyable.

Jun 2, 2009, 2:59 am

I'm just re-reading Philip Gaskells A New Introduction to Bibliography at the moment and (again) find it absolutely fascinating. Even though there are quite a few rather technical description (where I sometimes just get lost), it is entertaining and informative.

Jun 6, 2009, 3:32 pm

Gaskell can be hard to understand if you don't have examples in front of you, and the images aren't always very helpful.

Have you read (online) Neil Harris' introduction to analytical bibliography? .

Jul 27, 2009, 10:46 am

Jacob Soll, Publishing the Prince, The Information Master
Jennifer Summit, Memory's Library
Megan Hale Williams, The Monk and the Book

All really good, fairly recent books I'd recommend to anyone.

Jul 27, 2009, 12:00 pm

I've recently read (started & finished in a day) The book nobody read - not as insightful as Darnton and Gingerich is too full of himself at times, but a very enjoyable read, recommended for rare book library managers who want to learn from other peoples mistakes!

Ago 7, 2009, 7:13 am

I've tried to find Harris but couldn't access any of the two or three sites I tried. Do you have a link?

Yes, I agree, Gaskell can be a bit difficult - and confusing - at times. What I like, though, are the general parts about (the history of) printing. The detailed descriptions about how a certain press exactly works, I find mostly impossible to follow.

Another book I just started reading and love so far is Greetam's Textual Scholarship.

Ago 7, 2009, 10:05 pm

How about Anthony Grafton's work? or Henri-Jean Martin's?

Ago 8, 2009, 3:30 am

LonelyLibrarian Harris' text seems to have disappeared with the overhaul of enssib's website. You can still find it in Google's cache for now:

@BigJoel I liked Grafton's book on Eusebius a lot, but as a historian I'm not as familiar with the textual side of book history; analytical and descriptive bibliography are my thing. I'm very much looking forward to the conference in Munich this month, 'Early printed books as material objects'.

I admit, to my shame, not to have read Martin's works. I did read some of his articles but the complexity of his French is just a notch above my comfort level...

Ago 8, 2009, 9:50 am

Steven_VI At leasat one of Martin's books is available in English:

I am also a historian but come at it more from the social and cultural side of things.

Ago 10, 2009, 9:55 am

Thanks for the link. It's a pity the documentation, apart from the introduction, isn't online anymore. The course sounds very interesting. Have you been to the Ecole de l’Institut d’histoire du livre, Lyon? I took a course at the London Rare Books School (LRBS) three weeks ago, "Introduction to Bibliography", which dealt with more or less the same issues. We also read and discussed Greg’s ‘Rationale of Copy-Text’, which Harris mentioned. Even though I'm not concerned with editing, I found that aspect of bibliography quite interesting as well.

Ago 10, 2009, 12:21 pm

LonelyLibrarian (why so lonely?) - I haven't been to the Lyon course, but I'm hoping to have that chance within the next few years. I will be going to Munich for the IFLA preconference in a few days though! The London RBS is on my list too. I think as a librarian you should know a thing or two about editing, for example to have arguments for retaining multiple editions / multiple copies of old books.

BigJoel55 - Thanks for that link, now I have no excuse anymore :-)