The Early Book Society is pleased to announce the publication of member Alex da Costa’s monograph, Marketing English Books, 1476-1550: How Printers Changed Reading (OUP, 2020)(https://global.oup.com/academic/product/marketing-english-books-1476-1550-9780198847588?cc=us&lang=en&).
Until the advent of print, the sale of books had been primarily a bespoke trade, but printers faced a new sales challenge: how to sell hundreds of identical books to individuals, who had many other demands on their purses. This book contends that this forced printers to think carefully about marketing and potential demand, for even if they sold through a middleman—as most did—that wholesaler, bookseller, or chapman needed to be convinced the books would attract customers. Marketing English Books sets out, therefore, to show how markets for a wide range of texts were cultivated by English printers between 1476 and 1550 within a wider, European context: devotional tracts; forbidden evangelical books; romances, gests, and bawdy tales; news; pilgrimage guides, souvenirs and advertisements; and household advice. Through close analysis of paratexts—including title-pages, prefaces, tables of contents, envoys, colophons, and images—the book reveals the cultural impact of printers in this often overlooked period. It argues that while print and manuscript continued alongside each other, developments in the marketing of printed texts began to change what readers read and the place of reading in their lives on a larger scale and at a faster pace than had occurred before, shaping their expectations, tastes, and even their practices and beliefs.
The Early Book Society is pleased to announce the publication of member Orietta Da Rold’s monograph, Paper in Medieval England: From Pulp to Fictions (CUP, 2020)(https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/paper-in-medieval-england/1170CB3703A4A9C956B5508AF9F0F22A ).
Orietta Da Rold provides a detailed analysis of the coming of paper to medieval England, and its influence on the literary and non-literary culture of the period. Looking beyond book production, Da Rold maps out the uses of paper and explains the success of this technology in medieval culture, considering how people interacted with it and how it affected their lives. Offering a nuanced understanding of how affordance influenced societal choices, Paper in Medieval England draws on a multilingual array of sources to investigate how paper circulated, was written upon, and was deployed by people across medieval society, from kings to merchants, to bishops, to clerks and to poets, contributing to an understanding of how medieval paper changed communication and shaped modernity.
Daniel Sawyer’s book Reading English Verse in Manuscript c.1350–c.1500 is out!
Here’s the description from the Oxford University Press website:
Reading English Verse in Manuscript, c.1350-c.1500 is the first book-length history of reading for later Middle English poetry. While much past work in the history of reading has revolved around marginalia, this book consults a wider range of evidence, from the weights of books in medieval bindings to relationships between rhyme and syntax. It combines literary-critical close readings, detailed case studies of particular surviving codices, and systematic manuscript surveys drawing on continental European traditions of quantitative codicology to demonstrate the variety, vitality, and formal concerns visible in the reading of verse in this period.
The small- and large-scale formal features of poetry affected reading subtly but extensively, determining how readers might move through books and even shaping physical books themselves. Readers’ responses to one formal feature, rhyme, meanwhile, evince a habitual but therefore deep-rooted formalism which can support and enhance close readings today. Reading English Verse in Manuscript sheds fresh light on poets such as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Lydgate, and Thomas Hoccleve, but also shows how their works were read in manuscript in the context of a much larger mass of anonymous poems that influenced canonical poems, in a pattern of mutual influence.
Find out more here.
Margaret Connolly’s Sixteenth-Century, Fifteenth-Century Books: Continuities of Reading in the English Reformation is out!
Description from the publisher’s website
This innovative study investigates the reception of medieval manuscripts over a long century, 1470–1585, spanning the reigns of Edward IV to Elizabeth I. Members of the Tudor gentry family who owned these manuscripts had properties in Willesden and professional affiliations in London. These men marked the leaves of their books with signs of use, allowing their engagement with the texts contained there to be reconstructed. Through detailed research, Margaret Connolly reveals the various uses of these old books: as a repository for family records; as a place to preserve other texts of a favourite or important nature; as a source of practical information for the household; and as a professional manual for the practising lawyer. Investigation of these family-owned books reveals an unexpectedly strong interest in works of the past, and the continuing intellectual and domestic importance of medieval manuscripts in an age of print.
Find more information here: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/sixteenthcentury-readers-fifteenthcentury-books/5CF4C42F3E5C28388202DE762ACB24A8#fndtn-information