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189 x 246 mm
Oxford Illustrated History
  • Original essays by leading scholars offering a significant new interpretation of the global history of the book since ancient times
  • Richly illustrated to offer a unique history that allows readers to gain visual appreciation of the diverse forms of books and their history over the centuries and around the world
  • A complete history of the book in one volume providing comparative perspectives and important themes that cross centuries and continents

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


Edited by James Raven, Professor of Modern History, University of Essex, and Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, University of Essex
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).
Ann Blair, Harvard University
Sheila Blair, Boston College and Virginia Commonwealth University
Jonathan M. Bloom, Boston College and Virginia Commonwealth University
Cynthia Brokaw, Brown University
Marie-Françoise Cachin, Université Paris Diderot Paris VII
Barbara Crostini, Uppsala University
Jeffrey Freedman, Yeshiva University
Goran Proot, University of Milan
James Raven, University of Essex
Christopher A. Reed, Ohio State University
Eleanor Robson, University College London
David Rundle, University of Kent
Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Harvard University
Graham Shaw, University of London
M. William Steele, International Christian University (Tokyo)
Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Uppsala University

"[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

"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 its 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

"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