What Is a Book?: The Study of Early Printed Books


What Is a Book?: The Study of Early Printed Books

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Joseph A. Dane s What Is a Book? is an introduction to the study of books produced during the period of the hand press, dating from around 1450 through 1800. Using his own bibliographic interests as a guide, Dane selects illustrative examples primarily from fifteenth-century books, books of particular interest to students of English literature, and books central to the development of Anglo-American bibliography. Part I of What Is a Book? covers the basic procedures of printing and the parts of the physical book–size, paper, type, illustration; Part II treats the history of book-copies–from cataloging conventions and provenance to electronic media and their implications for the study of books.

Dane begins with the central distinction between a “book-copy”–the particular, individual, physical book–and a “book”–the abstract category that organizes these copies into editions, whereby each copy is interchangeable with any other. Among other issues, Dane addresses suc