Gutenberg in Shanghai

Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876–1937

(谷騰堡在上海:中國印刷資本業的發展 一八七六至一九三七年)

Christopher A. Reed

ISBN : 978-962-209-704-9


January 2005

412 pages, 6″ x 9″

For sale in Asia only

  • HK$225.00

In the mid-1910s, what historians call the “Golden Age of Chinese Capitalism” began, accompanied by a technological transformation that included the drastic expansion of China’s “Gutenberg revolution.” Gutenberg in Shanghai examines this process. It finds the origins of that revolution in the country’s printing industries of the late imperial period and analyzes their subsequent development in the Republican era.

This book, which relies on documents previously unavailable to both Western and Chinese researchers, demonstrates how Western technology and evolving traditional values resulted in the birth of a unique form of print capitalism whose influence on Chinese culture was far-reaching and irreversible. Its conclusion contests scholarly arguments that view China’s technological development as slowed by culture, or that interpret Chinese modernity as mere cultural continuity.

A vital reevaluation of Chinese modernity, Gutenberg in Shanghai will be enthusiastically received by scholars of Chinese history and by specialists in cultural studies, political science, sociology, the history of the book, and the anthropology of science and technology.

Christopher A. Reed is a member of the History Department at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

“By placing the technicalities of machinery and finance squarely in the center of his analysis, Reed offers brilliant insights into the birth of ‘print capitalism’ in Shanghai. The adoption of Western printing presses gave birth to an intellectual world that was new, yet not alien. As Reed skillfully demonstrates, by drawing on the aesthetics, social values, and mechanical skills of the late imperial period, the Chinese made modern printing thoroughly their own.” —Francesca Bray, author of Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China

“There is nothing in any language that approaches what Reed covers in this book. A more thorough exploration of printing as an element in the early modernization of Chinese politics and economy could scarcely be imagined. Essential reading for those interested in the history-of-the-book.” —Timothy Brook, author of The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China

“Tracing the history of three leading publishing houses in Shanghai, Reed deftly combines technological, business, and social history. I am not aware of a similar work in any language that offers such a unique combination.” —Man Bun Kwan, author of The Salt Merchants of Tianjin: State-Making and Civil Society in Late Imperial China