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The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book

By: James Raven(Editor)
431 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour & b/w illustrations
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book
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  • The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book ISBN: 9780198702993 Paperback Aug 2022 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book ISBN: 9780198702986 Hardback Aug 2020 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Selected version: £21.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

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 transoceanic shipping 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.


1. Introduction, James Raven
2. The Ancient World, Eleanor Robson
3. Byzantium, Barbara Crostini
4. Medieval and Early Modern East Asia, Cynthia Brokaw
5. Western Europe, c. 450-c.1450, David Rundle
6. Renaissance and Reformation, James Raven and Goran Proot
7. Managing Information, Ann Blair
8. The Islamic World, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom
9. Enlightenment and Revolution, Jeffrey Freedman
10. South Asia, Graham Shaw
11. Industrialization, Marie-Françoise Cachin
12. Modern China, Japan and Korea, Christopher A. Reed and M. William Steele
13. Globalization, Eva Hemmungs Wirtén
14. Books Transformed, Jeffrey T. Schnapp

Further Reading

Customer Reviews


James Raven is Professor of Modern History at the University of Essex and a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Formerly he was Reader in Social and Cultural History, University of Oxford, and Professorial Fellow of Mansfield College. He is the author, editor and co-editor of numerous books in early modern and modern British, European and colonial history, including Judging New Wealth (1992); The Practice and Representation of Reading (1996); The English Novel 1770-1829 (2000); Free Print and Non-Commercial Publishing (2000); London Booksellers and American Customers (2002); Lost Libraries (2004); The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade (2007); Books between Europe and the Americas (2011); Publishing Business (2014) and Bookscape: Geographies of Printing and Publishing in London before 1800 (2014).

By: James Raven(Editor)
431 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour & b/w illustrations
Media reviews

"[A] brilliant book [...] illustrated with the most sumptuous photographic images of books ancient and modern."
– Kathryn Hughes, The Mail on Sunday

"This book will become an invaluable point of departure for students new to the field, for scholars who need to venture outside their normal chronological and geographical comfort zones, and – as it should be – to that elusive general reader."
– John Feather, Library & Information History

"Raven [...] has drawn together scholarly essays offering a sweeping, erudite, and thoroughly engaging narrative [...] A profusely illustrated, handsomely produced intellectual history."
Kirkus, starred review

"Together, these fourteen essays form a thorough picture of how and why books progressed along the lines that they did. In an age when books are once again experiencing momentous changes, this well-researched reminder of their durability and timelessness is very welcome."
– Eileen Gonzalez, Foreword Reviews

"This volume is a cultural biography of the book, taking a global view of its underlying function as a portable, durable conveyor of reproducible information [...] Other works trace the history of the book, but Oxford's treatment is a deeper, more multicultural, and more visually appealing approach."
– Lesley Farmer, Booklist

"Beautifully comprehensively illustrated history of the book [...] the essays are stimulating and thought provoking. This is a scholarly work but it's also a coffee table book intended to be widely read and accessible. This is a very well curated collection [...] Fascinating and beautiful."
– Paul Burke, NB Magazine

"This is an excellent compilation on the world-wide history of the book [...] beautifully illustrated [...] Put it on your Christmas present list."
– Prof. T.D. Wilson, Information Research

"Beautifully illustrated, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book is a seminal and original work of meticulous scholarship"
Midwest Book Review

"A sumptuous production."
– Liz Dexter, Shiny New Books

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