ATG Book of the Week: The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book

by | Feb 16, 2021 | 0 comments

Title: The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book
Author: James Raven
Hardcover: ISBN: 978-0198702986, $27.39; Kindle: ISBN: 978-0198702986, $22.99
Imprint: Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2020

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.”


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

“Raven… has drawn together scholarly essays offering a sweeping, erudite, and thoroughly engaging narrative… A profusely illustrated, handsomely produced intellectual history.” — Kirkus, Starred Review

“Beautifully illustrated, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book is a seminal and original work of meticulous scholarship” — Midwest Book 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

“A sumptuous production.” — Liz Dexter, Shiny New Books


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